THE last sitting week of the 43rd Australian Parliament was a shambolic disaster.
The Nationals’ Senator Bridget McKenzie told The Star recently 55 pieces of legislation were “guillotined” through because the Labor Party had been far more focused on its internal machinations instead of the passage of legislation. Senator McKenzie said the important Gonskilegislation relating to major changes in the funding of education in Australia had a 45 minute airing in the Senate because that was all the time available. “We’ve been sitting until 11 o’clock at night and we’ve been prepared to do that.”
But it wasn’t enough. An early childhood education bill that would see wage rises for only 40 per cent of staff in that industry had a mere seven minutes of the senators’ combined attention and aged care reforms were pushed through too.
Senator McKenzie said both those matters were dear to her heart and the aged care reforms would strike hard at small regional and rural services. The senator said she took heart from the comments of long-standing parliamentarians who said this was the worst week in parliament they had ever experienced.
On the dumping of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Senator McKenzie said given the way Ms Gillard came to the top office, she wasn’t surprised she lost it in similar fashion. She thought it reflected the dysfunction
and deep divisions in the Labor Party rather than having anything to do with Ms Gillard’s gender. Bridget McKenzie is from Leongatha. She took up her position in the Senate on July 1, 2011.