Unis, guns and metadata focus in Canberra

Education Minister Christopher Pyne is only contemplating victory when the Senate votes on his contentious university reforms.


The success of Mr Pyne’s talks with Senate crossbenchers will be put to the test this week when the upper house debates legislation to deregulate tertiary fees.

His job in convincing six crossbenchers to support the bill has been made more complicated with the resignation of Glenn Lazarus from the Palmer United Party to sit as an independent.

Speaking ahead of the vote, which he expects on Wednesday, the education minister said he was not contemplating defeat.

“We will fight right through to the vote,” Mr Pyne told ABC television on Sunday.

“I’m contemplating victory on Wednesday because it’s too important not to win for students and for universities and for Australia.”

National security will also be a major focus of parliament this week, with metadata laws and a renewed push for mandatory sentences for illegal firearms traffickers.

Tony Abbott on Sunday announced the government would revive legislation for minimum sentences of five years for gun traffickers.

The measure was previously blocked by Labor and the Greens, but the prime minister urged the opposition to this time support the legislation.

“I say to Bill Shorten and the Labor Party, if you’re fair dinkum about protecting our community from gun crime you should support these mandatory minimum sentences for people who traffic in illegal firearms,” he told reporters in Sydney.

On Tuesday the lower house will also debate the government’s bill to force telecommunications companies to keep two years of customer metadata.

Labor wants the bill amended to better protect whistleblowers and journalists as well as ensure privacy and civil liberties issues are addressed.

On Monday the Senate is due to debate a migration bill which will make it easier to return asylum seekers.

The Greens will seek an opportunity during the sitting fortnight to introduce a bill to restore car industry funding.

On Friday the Senate will receive a report on the government’s “asset recycling” program, which provides bonus payments to states that privatise assets and spend the money on infrastructure.