Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Page: 9937


Mr ALBANESE (GrayndlerLeader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (18:35): I move:

That in respect of the proceedings on the Clean Energy Bill 2011, the Clean Energy (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2011, the Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates Amendments) Bill 2011, the Clean Energy (Household Assistance Amendments) Bill 2011, the Clean Energy (Tax Laws Amendments) Bill 2011, the Clean Energy (Fuel Tax Legislation Amendment) Bill 2011, the Clean Energy (Customs Tariff Amendment) Bill 2011, the Clean Energy (Excise Tariff Legislation Amendment) Bill 2011, the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Import Levy) Amendment Bill 2011, the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Manufacture Levy) Amendment Bill 2011, the Clean Energy (Unit Shortfall Charge—General) Bill 2011, the Clean Energy (Unit Issue Charge—Auctions) Bill 2011, the Clean Energy (Unit Issue Charge—Fixed Charge) Bill 2011, the Clean Energy (International Unit Surrender Charge) Bill 2011, the Clean Energy (Charges—Customs) Bill 2011, the Clean Energy (Charges—Excise) Bill 2011, the Clean Energy Regulator Bill 2011, the Climate Change Authority Bill 2011, and the Steel Transformation Plan Bill 2011, so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the following from occurring:

(1) the resumption of debate on the second readings of the bills being called on together;

(2) at the conclusion of the second reading debate or at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, 11 October 2011, whichever is the earlier, a Minister being called to sum up the second reading debate, then without delay, in respect of all the bills with the exception of the Steel Transformation Plan Bill 2011:

(a)   one question being put on any amendments moved to motions for the second readings by opposition Members;

(b)   any necessary questions being put on amendments moved by any other Member; and

(c)   one question being put on the second readings of the bills together;

(3)   then without delay, any questions necessary to conclude the second reading stage of the Steel Transformation Plan Bill 2011 being put;

(4)   if the second readings of the bills have been agreed to, messages from the Governor-General recommending appropriations for any of the bills being announced together;

(5)   the consideration in detail stages, if required, on all the bills being taken together until no later than immediately after prayers on Wednesday, 12 October 2011, with no business intervening, at which time any Government amendments that have been circulated in respect of any of the bills except the Steel Transformation Plan Bill 2011 shall be treated as if they have been moved together with:

(a)   one question being put on all the Government amendments;

(b)   one question being put on any amendments which have been moved by opposition Members;

(c)   any necessary questions being put on amendments moved by any other Member; and

(d)   any further questions necessary to complete the detail stage being put;

(6)   then without delay, any Government amendments that have been circulated in respect of the Steel Transformation Plan Bill 2011 shall be treated as if they have been moved together with;

(a)   one question being put on all the Government amendments;

(b)   one question being put on any amendments which have been moved by opposition Members;

(c)   any necessary questions being put on amendments moved by any other Member; and

(d)   any further questions necessary to complete the detail stage being put;

(7)   at the conclusion of the detail stage, one question being put on the remaining stages of all the bills, except the Steel Transformation Plan Bill 2011, together and then one question being put on the remaining stages of the Steel Transformation Plan Bill 2011; and

(8)   any variation to this arrangement to be made only by a motion moved by a Minister.

This debate management motion is to ensure that there is absolute certainty about what the process is for dealing with the Clean Energy Future bills. Under the timetable set out in a resolution of the parliament, we introduced the bills prior to question time today. Debate will of course be permitted over the next fortnight, leading right up to the second reading being put to a vote of the parliament on 11 October, the consideration in detail stage occurring after those votes and final votes taking place on 12 October. What the government is proposing here is a full month to facilitate the participation of the parliament in these processes. The joint committee that has just been established through a resolution of the House will meet to allow for community input prior to any votes being held on these bills. We have just altered the reporting date; the government accepted an amendment that the reporting date would be on 7 October. What I find quite extraordinary is the fact that the opposition voted, through that last division, against the existence of the joint committee—they voted against the very process, in spite of the fact that, of the two amendments that they put up, one was supported completely and the other was supported as amended by my amendment to their amendment. It just shows that nothing can alter them from their path of relentless negativity and opposition. Indeed, regardless of the fact that the amendment that they moved to change the reporting date of the joint committee was accepted by the government, they then went and spoke against that very process—quite an extraordinary performance before the parliament.

This debate management motion adds to the consultation and debate that has already occurred on these bills and the issue of climate change; the exposure draft of the bills that was released on 28 July, with 300 submissions received; the MPCCC where the opposition refused to participate—1,300 submissions received; and the 35 parliamentary reviews over 19 years.

This stands in stark contrast to the way that they conducted themselves when they were the government. The infamous Work Choices legislation, which took away the rights of working people right around the country, was introduced into the parliament on 2 November 2005 and passed on 10 November 2005—eight days later. We are allowing a full month of debate. Indeed, the walking vuvuzela, the Leader of the Opposition, when he was asked about gagging the Work Choices debate, said—this is what Hansard records—on 10 November 2005:

… how much more debate could this bill possibly require? I put it to you, Mr Speaker, that the members opposite are not interested in debating this bill, they are not interested in trying to improve this bill; they simply want to reject this bill.

Well, I say that the Leader of the Opposition got it right then. We did want to reject the Work Choices legislation, lock, stock and barrel. And we were right to reject the Work Choices legislation. But what those opposite want to do is to come up with methods of delaying the debate in this parliament.

There is no doubt what the opposition's position is on these bills. How long does it take you to say 'No'? That is what they are going to say to this legislation. And here is what the Leader of the Opposition said in his doorstop on 11 July 2011: 'I mean, I have dedicated my political life, whatever's left of it, to stopping this carbon tax.' Isn't that something extraordinary—that you would dedicate your political life not to any positive reform, not to improving the lives of Australians, not towards making a big economic reform, not towards assisting in an area of the environment, not towards assisting in an area of social policy reform, but to stopping something. It says it all about the Leader of the Opposition. And he repeats, every day, that he will be campaigning until his last breath against this tax. And where it is leading them is to the sort of behaviour that we saw expressed in the parliament today.

We had the bills introduced by the Prime Minister, by the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, by the Treasurer and by the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Then, in question time, immediately after the introduction of those bills, the opposition did not even bother to ask any questions about the substance of the legislation that had been introduced before the House. They did not seek to raise the issue at the beginning of question time in any of their earlier questions. It went to their obsessions—indeed, they were even in the extraordinary position whereby they had a question ruled out of order. And of course they were all pumped up today. From the time that the Prime Minister answered her first question, they were pumped up with their interjections. But today they took it to a new level. Today they decided that they would not just disrupt on the floor of the parliament but that they would also disrupt in the galleries—with people who had had lunch upstairs, with leading members of the opposition, they decided that they would disrupt upstairs.

Indeed, so pumped up were they that they even disrupted a question about the visit of the United States President, Barack Obama. I was reminded that they had form on this issue, because Prime Minister Howard had said on 11 February 2007 on the Sunday program:

If I was running Al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.

Mr Combet: What a statement!

Mr ALBANESE: A disgraceful statement, made by Prime Minister Howard, and disgraceful behaviour today on the floor of the House of Representatives when the Prime Minister was announcing the visit of President Obama. And we had the extraordinary position whereby the Leader of the Opposition had to play catch up at the end of question time and seek indulgence to actually try to put something positive on the record so that he could at least have some mitigation of his humiliation when the Speaker refused to give him the call to respond to the Prime Minister's answer to the first question today. But what it shows—

Mr Pyne: Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We have given the Leader of the House a great deal of licence.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr S Sidebottom ): What is your point of order?

Mr Pyne: This is a debate about a motion—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is your point of order?

Mr Pyne: My point of order is that what he is saying is utterly irrelevant to the debate before the chamber.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you, you have made your point of order. Take your seat.

Mr Pyne: And you should have called him out.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Just be very careful, Member for Sturt! Your point of order is on relevance. I ask the Leader of the House to remember the topic that we are discussing now.

Mr ALBANESE: I certainly am, Mr Deputy Speaker. In the point of order and the response to you which reflected on the chair, once again the Manager of Opposition Business has shown just how unfit for government those who sit opposite are.

What this process puts in place is absolute certainty. We have had the absurdity of those opposite arguing in terms of the time frame for this legislation—

Mr Pyne interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Sturt, I ask you to wait to speak until you get the call, and that goes for all people at the table. I want to hear the speaker.

Mr ALBANESE: Thanks, Mr Deputy Speaker. What we have had is an attempt to delay this legislation. We know that they delayed: they had over 12 years to act on climate change and they refused to do so. They took a couple of steps forward but then would take three steps back. They signed the Kyoto protocol but would not ratify the Kyoto protocol. They were not quite sure where they were in terms of the renewable energy target and support for industry. From time to time every election they drew out support for a particular solar project or support for a particular water project or for some environmental initiative, and particularly if it was someone who was known to senior members of the then government frontbench it got a run, but there was no consistency and no framework.

What this legislation does is put in place a comprehensive package of reform to ensure that we move towards a clean energy future. What this motion before the House does is manage the process so that there can be absolute certainty. We know that those opposite have been trying to raise all sorts of issues with regard to whether pairs would be granted and when the votes were to be held. They have said, 'We don't know when they'll be held; it will be up to the government to schedule it.' What we are doing here today is providing that absolute certainty, so that everyone knows when the votes will be held, in a way which is appropriate. Every time they have gone a step too far, such as saying that they would deny the right of a father to be present at the birth of his child, they had to backtrack from that position.

Mr Pyne: That never happened!

Mr ALBANESE: The Manager of Opposition Business says that never happened. He went on radio and said that that would happen, as did the Leader of the Opposition, as did other members of the frontbench—the so-called family-friendly party, out there exposed for all to see for the gross opportunists that they are.

What this motion before the House does is give that certainty for people. It should be supported by the parliament. It provides for an orderly process whereby every member will be able to participate. I repeat for the Manager of Opposition Business: we are prepared to sit extra hours in the parliament if required for people to speak before the parliament—unlike the way that they dealt with Work Choices, the war on Iraq, the Tampa legislation; all of those serious issues. We are ensuring, one month ahead, that there is a proper process. Indeed, I gave notice of this process, that this was the way we would proceed, in a press conference more than a week ago—last Tuesday morning. And, indeed, I had discussions with the opposition, which is more than was ever accorded to me when I was Manager of Opposition Business, when I had one conversation with the then Leader of the House over an entire term of parliament—one conversation about any process that was occurring before this House.

What occurred under the former government was that they would come in, move the first reading, move the second reading and move immediately through to deal with debate, without adjourning it at all, and then just crunch and guillotine the debate. That was the way those opposite dealt with parliamentary processes and the rights to participate. We are a different government. We are a government that supports transparency, that supports openness, that supports participation and that supports a proper process. We believe that through proper processes you get better outcomes. That is why we have put together this motion that is before the House, and I commend it to the House.