Call for pact to make Senate work better

There’s a need for a cross-party pact to ensure the Senate functions properly in future, no matter what the party split in the Senate is, CLA says. Read the media release calling for all parties to announce their support for such an agreement.

Media Release

18 Nov 07

Civil Liberties Australia today called for all political parties to sign a pact to ensure the Senate works better for the proper governance of Australia.

“We call on all parties to agree to a few basic principles, which would mean that no party could abuse the Senate processes, whether they had a majority or not,” CLA President, Dr Kristine Klugman, said.
Under the Senate pact, the parties would agree to:

  • committees chaired by Senators from all parties in a balanced, equitable manner;
  • committees not dominated numerically by either major group (Labor or Coalition);
  • committees able to initiate their own inquiries (subject to a veto by a full Senate vote);
  • committees on each issue having a minimum time of:
    • 7 days of evidence taking/consultation;
    • 7 days of preliminary report writing;
    • 7 days of a preliminary report being open for public comment; and
    • 7 days for final report preparation.
  • the government responding in full to any tabled Senate committee report within three months, or otherwise any formally recommended amendment in the report would become a Bill before the Parliament;
  • question time restored to its full allocation of questions, and of questions for non-government parties;
  • preventing inappropriate cut-off of Bills, and the limiting of time for debate; and
  • mandating that the government, ministers and staff, departments and agencies, supply committee-requested information unless proven before a court/tribunal that release is not in the public interest.

“We call on the parties to agree to such a charter as the basis for Senate reform from 2008,” Dr Klugman said. “The Department of the Senate should prepare a draft pact for Senators to approve in early 2008.”

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