On Wednesday I spoke in the Senate and raised my concerns again. I wanted to know what was the hurry? Why was pressure being put to bear on us to push through the Credit Bill?
Yesterday I asked the Leader of the Senate a question about a matter that puzzled me. What was the rush with the Credit Bill? Why was pressure being put on us when the initial urgency was long gone?
What is the rush with this legislation? I understood from yesterday’s proceedings that it was being introduced as emergency legislation, presumably because of the danger that a bank might be in trouble or that people on the markets might act on price sensitive information. Our knowledge since yesterday that legislation was forthcoming has lifted stock prices, which may or may not be a positive outcome. Given that today there is no problem for the markets or anywhere else with a delay, what is the rush? Why can we not take more time with this legislation rather than rushing it through tonight?
My reaction to yesterday’s events was the same as every other Senator on this side of the House, namely, that we have to back a rescue operation of this sort because the alternative would be disastrous. A myth about this legislation already exists in the public arena which suggests that it is merely a guarantee. A reading of the Bill, however, reveals that a guarantee is only one element of its provisions. It makes broad reference to financial support, which it specifically describes as “a loan, a guarantee, an exchange of assets and any other kind of financial accommodation or support.”
This is not a doomsday situation; it is a case of the Government being able at any time to give a loan to a bank that is in trouble. I did not even realise that on yesterday. It is important that we are given time to study this Bill before we rush it through. I ask the Leader again why our deliberations have to be finished by midnight. Why can we not at least be given an additional day to consider it?
We were then asked to adjourn for five hours. I thought this was ludicrous, why could we not be given more time to ask questions?
If we do not get a reason for the rush, we must be suspicious that something is happening about which we are not being told, which is possibly true.
Could we be given a reason for this extraordinary request?
The Leader just stood up and said he proposed we adjourn until 11 p.m. Why? Why in the name of God can we not consider this Bill properly when we meet tomorrow morning, or we could meet earlier tomorrow, or on Friday or Saturday? To ask us to go away for five hours for no reason and to come back and debate this Bill, when it probably will not be ready in any event, is utterly unreasonable. I wonder what is going on behind the scenes. I wonder is a bank in trouble? What is happening? Must this Bill be put through before tomorrow morning because the European Commission is kicking up an awful fuss and it will have us in the courts in the morning? We need a reason for this. This is very important and the Leader knows perfectly well that the Bill will not be properly considered, with due consideration, at 11 p.m. We will not table the amendments required and we will not be fit enough to consider it properly, but we would be tomorrow and the Bill may not even be ready by then.
The frustration felt by the rest of my Senate colleagues was palpable, we felt we were being treated like cattle. It was an insult.