Efforts to pass a motion in the Federal Senate to disallow the amendments to the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) legislation have stalled for the time being after the Federal Government blocked a vote on the motion.
The move to introduce a motion to disallow came about as a coalition of Senators from the cross-benches, independents, Labor and the Greens formed overnight with the intention of introducing the motion into the Senate today.
However the Federal Government managed to fill the two and half hours between the suspension of standing orders at 10:18 am and resumption of normal proceedings at 12:45 pm with a debate on whether the disallowance motion would be introduced.
Labour Senator Claire Moore initially moved a motion to suspend standing orders to vary the hours of meeting and routine of business in the Senate to provide for the consideration of a disallowance motion on the FOFA amendments.
The Senate then voted to suspend standing orders at 10:18 am with a series of procedural votes occupying the Senate’s time until just after 11am when further debate begun about the bringing of the disallowance motion.
Acting Deputy Treasurer and Minister for Finance Senator Matthias Cormann voiced his opposition to the move and was followed by Liberal Senators Cory Bernardi and Ian McDonald who both used their full allotment of time to argue against the introduction to the change of business to allow the introduction of the motion.
McDonald called on Palmer United Party Senator Jacqui Lambie and Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party Senator Ricky Muir to explain why they changed their position on a written agreement with the Federal Government while Cormann questioned the speed at which the motion was being brought into the Senate.
He returned to the floor of the Senate at 12pm and moved an amendment to the motion that the disallowance be heard fully on 27 November ahead of all other business on that day with the Senate voting against the amendment. The Senate voted against this at 12:28pm with Liberal Senator Eric Abetz speaking until the resumption of regular business at 12:45pm.
While the issue appears to have been dealt with for the today the Senate still has five further sitting days in which to vote on the FOFA amendments before they are automatically struck down.
If today’s voting intentions are maintained by the relevant parties the amendments could still be disallowed in the Senate but this would not prevent the Federal Government from introducing amended legislation to replace the disallowed regulations.
Abetz criticised the Labour and Greens parties for their haste in bring the disallowance motion to the Senate today and claimed they were concerned that unless it was heard today it would lose support from the cross-bench senators who had, overnight, shifted their position on the FOFA amendments.
Update: 2:30pm - During Senate Question Time Labour Senator Claire Moore has moved a motion to suspend standing orders to vary the hours of meeting and routine of business today to provide for the consideration of a disallowance motion and debate around the motion has begun.
Update: 3:46 pm - The Senate has voted to vary its business and debate has begun on the amendments and their disallowance.