The Coalition and Senate crossbench will not tolerate the Albanese Government’s attempt to push through a Parliamentary Sitting Calendar for 2023 without the usual four weeks of Senate estimates.
The Opposition, along with the cross-bench, have written to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Wong, stating that the Albanese Government must reinsert a fourth Senate estimates week into the sitting schedule.
As the longest serving clerk of the Senate, the late Harry Evans, said in 2006:
The value of estimates hearings in improving accountability and probity of government has long been widely recognised. The hearings allow apparent problems in government operations to be explored and exposed, and give rise to a large amount of information which would not otherwise be disclosed. They have come to be recognised as a major parliamentary institution of accountability.
The axing of a whole week of Senate estimates is a case of the Albanese Government taking an axe to accountability and transparency.
This extraordinary change, along with the unprecedented addition of Friday sitting days without committing to the transparency of having a Question Time, has been proposed with no consultation with the Opposition and no regard for Senate conventions.
It is also extraordinary that the Greens have failed to join the Coalition and crossbenchers in demanding the extra Senate estimates week. Whatever happened to the Greens commitment to transparency and accountability, or what deal have they done to trade away Senate estimates?
I thank Senators Babet, Hanson, Lambie, Pocock, Roberts and Tyrrell for ensuring the convention of this critical parliamentary institution of accountability is rightly upheld.