The Labor Government has continued to ram a raft of important legislation through the Senate without due opportunity to talk about the implications for regional Australia, according to The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie.
Debate on the mining tax was cut short earlier this week and legislation impacting the textiles industry was given little time in the chamber.
Senator McKenzie said the latest piece of legislation given lip service by Labor and the Greens related to regional commercial radio.
“Less than four minutes was allowed for debate on the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Regional Commercial Radio) Bill 2011 today, which changed regulations on local content rules,” Senator McKenzie explained.
“Most regional broadcasters will now be required to provide local content and presence for a minimum 47 weeks of the year compared to 52 weeks at present.”
Senator McKenzie said she understood the commercial radio industry backed the changes to allow operators some flexibility with staffing arrangements, particularly around Christmas-New Year.
“The Coalition recognises the importance of strong, profitable, regional radio stations. The changes provide regulatory relief to the industry while preserving measures that guarantee the continued broadcasting of local content however, four minutes’ focus on any piece of legislation is simple unacceptable.
“The Senate is supposed to be the chamber of scrutiny but it is impossible to discharge this responsibility when the government rams through legislation and gags debate,” Senator McKenzie said.
“That the Greens happily help Labor to silence the Senate is shameful.”
The poor form is set to continue this evening with the Senate program indicating a paltry amount of time will be spent considering the Australian Research Council and Financial Framework Legislation Amendment Bills.