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Senate committee process in 'disrepute'

AAP logoAAP 9/10/2016 Belinda Merhab

Federal politicians on both sides agree the Senate committee process is broken.

A debate was sparked in the upper house on Monday when a report into a contentious government bill to protect emergency services volunteers was tabled, prompting complaints by Labor the Senate was given a very short time to conduct a inquiry.

Committees weren't there to just rubber stamp government legislation, Labor's Gavin Marshall said.

Government backbencher Ian Macdonald agreed the committee system needed review.

The system had been brought into "disrepute" with some inquiries set up for political purposes, he said, insisting the only people that bothered to read inquiry reports were journalists with a particular angle.

There were so many committees running at the same time that the senators involved could do no more than a cursory consideration of the issues, he said.

"You could almost write the report before the committee started," Senator Macdonald said.

"The whole Senate committee system I think does need a major review."

Senior Labor senator Doug Cameron agreed there were problems but insisted under-resourcing of the Senate was to blame.

There are more than 40 Senate inquiries into issues or legislation, established within just seven parliamentary sitting days since the July 2 election.

Several of those inquiries had lapsed with the dissolution of both houses for the election and have been re-referred.

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