The Senate needs to stop procrastinating and deliver its verdict on the federal government’s trade union reforms, Attorney-General George Brandis says.
In his reply to Governor-General Peter Cosgrove’s recall of parliament on Monday, Senator Brandis said the upper house had repeatedly employed delaying tactics to avoid debating bills to restore the building industry watchdog.
“The time has come for the Senate to procrastinate no longer, to delay no longer and to come to a conclusion on these bills,” he told parliament.
He also urged the Senate to support the government’s move to abolish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.
If legislation to abolish the tribunal comes before the Senate while it was debating bills to restore the building industry watchdog, the government was prepared to temporarily adjourn debate on the Australian Building and Construction Commission, he said.
If the bill to abolish the tribunal did not pass, the government would seek to delay its decision to set minimum pay rates from coming into effect.
Senior Labor senator Stephen Conroy described the recall of parliament as a travesty of democracy, likening it to the 1975 dismissal of the Whitlam government by Governor-General John Kerr.
“What we’ve had today is the ghost of 1975 revisited upon us – the long, dead arm of Sir John Kerr crawl out of his grave.”
Sir Peter had overturned the will of a democratically-elected Senate in a tawdry political stunt that demeaned his office, Senator Conroy said.
“Never has the need for a republic been more evidenced than today,” Senator Conroy said.
“Never in modern history has a government prorogued a parliament to obtain a political advantage and that is what this government has done.”
The senator was repeatedly warned by Senate President Stephen Parry to stop reflecting adversely on both the Queen and the governor-general.
Senator Conroy said the recall of parliament had nothing to do with trade union reform and was about clearing out the crossbench in a double-dissolution election following the passage of Senate voting changes.
The prime minister’s commitment to having union reforms passed was just “crocodile tears”.
Turnbull government vs the Senate: Key points day 1
The government has enforced a rarely used constitutional power to prorogue parliament, effectively creating a new session of parliament without dissolving itIt has given the Senate three weeks to consider rejected legislation restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission and bills imposing tougher governance measures on trade unionsPrime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has vowed to hold a double-dissolution election on July 2 if the Senate again rejects the legislationGovernor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove addressed a joint sitting of parliament’s two chambers, telling MPs and senators they had been recalled early to consider legislation critical to the government’s reform agendaSenior Labor figure Stephen Conroy invoked the ghost of another GG – Sir John Kerr – to accuse the government of proroguing parliament for political advantageIn the lower house, the government used its numbers to block an attempt by Labor to have MPs debate a motion demanding a royal commission into the misdeeds of banksMPs voted to formally asked the Senate to consider the ABCC billsThe government has agreed to interrupt Senate debate on the ABCC bills to consider legislation abolishing the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal once legislation has been received from the House of Reps