From the Desk

Latest news from Senator James McGrath:

Social Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2015

It gives me great pleasure to rise this evening to talk on the Social Services Legislation Amendment (No. 2) Bill 2015. This bill will introduce three measures into the Social Services portfolio. In the first measure the bill will amend the social security law to streamline the current income management program under a two-year continuation. Income management and the BasicsCard will continue for two additional years to maintain support for existing income management participants. The income management element of the Cape York Welfare Reform will also continue for two additional years to June 2017 in line with the rest of the income management streamlining measures.

National Science Week

Migration Amendment Bill 2015

I rise to speak on the Migration Amendment (Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2015. Protecting our borders and stopping the despicable people-smuggling trade was a key pledge of the coalition government in order to keep Australia safe and secure. We on this side of the chamber are very proud to support strong border security measures. As I said earlier this week, the highest priority of any government is security of the country, and the bill adds to these measures. But before going into the details it is worth highlighting the contrast between the coalition on this side and Labor and the Greens on the other side.

Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2015

It gives me great pleasure to speak on the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Powers, Offences and Other Measures) Bill 2015. The coalition government made a commitment to ensuring a safe and secure Australia because security is the highest priority of any government. This bill delivers on the coalition government's commitment to tackle crime and make our communities safer. By providing our law enforcement agencies with the tools and powers they need to do their job, and by ensuring Commonwealth laws are robust and effective, this bill reflects this coalition government's efforts to target criminals and reduce the heavy cost of crime for all Australians.

Vale Land Rover

Tonight I wish to pay homage to the passing of a car. Indeed, the car I mourn passes further into folklore when it ceases production in December this year. To confuse matters even further, it is not a car, and other descriptors like 'utility vehicle' or 'automobile' fail to do this most beautiful of creatures justice. Of course I am mourning, in that most platonic of relationships—between man and woman and the Land Rover Defender—the sad end of the Land Rover Defender's production.

Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption

I also rise to speak on this matter of public importance. I will fully defend the professionalism and the impartiality of Dyson Heydon AC, QC. The senator opposite said that the royal commission had significant problems. I think the significant problems that have been identified are those affecting the union movement and corrupt union bosses across Australia. The issue that the Labor Party has with Justice Heydon is not any allegations about impartiality; it is the corruption and the badness that has been taking place in the union movement over a number of years. The royal commission has done vital work to uncover questionable dealings by union bosses. Criminal charges have been recommended against at least three of the most senior officials of the militant construction union the CFMEU. No less than four people have been arrested in association with the dealings of the CFMEU thanks to the work of the royal commission. A series of unions have been implicated in secret slush fund scandals that have finally come to light. We should not forget that the Leader of the Opposition, a secretary of the Australian Workers Union, traded away the penalty rates of low-paid workers, had his union receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in unexplained payments and failed to disclose over $40,000 donated to his political campaign by a company with which his union was dealing. Of course, he remembered this hours and days before his own appearance before the royal commission.

Be Better ABC

Few organisations generate debate and polarise the national conversation as much as the ABC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Sadly this conversation has increasingly become about the ABC itself—its machinations, its vacillations, its inclinations—rather than the stories of Australian life that should hold centre stage. I have said before, much to the dismay of my colleagues, that I love the ABC. It is a platonic love. I love Gardening Australia on a Saturday night at 6.30. I love Grand Designs and Kevin McCloud. And I have started to become a little bit obsessed by Inspector George Gently. As someone who grew up in rural and regional Queensland, I am a friend of the ABC—and the best friend you can ever have is someone who will be an honest friend and who will speak a hard truth when they see a problem.

Building and Construction Industry Bill 2013

Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2014

All Government Spending On-line

Halfway across the world, an ancient civilisation finds itself teetering at the edge of the abyss. Through lax spending and an engorged government sector, Greece has racked up €320 billion in debt, a staggering 177 per cent of its domestic product. Unemployment stands at 26 per cent. Families struggle to make ends meet, and the country faces total financial ruin. Economic Armageddon awaits the Greeks. The economic crisis in Greece is a warning to all nations about the perils of high, prolonged, unaccountable government spending. Big government is the enemy of economic liberty. Big government spending is the enemy of personal liberty. Big government debt is the enemy of national liberty.