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Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Page: 57


Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (15:16): One of the reports that has just been tabled is a devastating report—

The SPEAKER: The member for Grayndler needs to—

Mr ALBANESE: I am speaking to the motion.

The SPEAKER: He needs to speak to why the reports should be made parliamentary papers.

Mr ALBANESE: Yes. It certainly should be made a parliamentary paper, because it is a report into the disastrous East West debacle in Melbourne—and I note that, in the form in which it was moved in this chamber, they tried to hide what it was. And why wouldn't you? It shows that there was—

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member for Grayndler should know that, if he wishes to take advantage of what is usually a routine matter, he will need to spend the entire period of his 10 minutes explaining why this question should be put to the parliament about making these reports parliamentary papers as opposed to any other kind of paper. If he had perhaps given me notice of this I might have made an arrangement for him to be able to talk on this matter with his shadow counterpart, but he has not. He does need to make it very clear why, technically, these reports should be parliamentary papers under the standing orders and what that means, as opposed to dealing with the substance of the reports.

The SPEAKER: I thank the Leader of the House. I listened to his point of order. He would have heard that I made that entirely clear at the start. The member for Grayndler needs to show why the reports must be made parliamentary papers.

Mr ALBANESE: Absolutely. For the benefit of the Leader of the House, it helps if a report is made a parliamentary paper so that people can read what is in it. That is the point. Why they want to hide this report is that it says, for example, 'Consistent with this situation, departmental advice—

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, I am really loath to take a point of order on the former Leader of the House, because I know how experienced he is in these matters, but there are of course many ways of obtaining a report. One of them of course is to make it a parliamentary paper, which connotes certain privileges to that paper. What the member for Grayndler needs to debate is why this should be made a parliamentary and what that means, rather than other methods of making reports part of the Hansard, for example, in terms of tabling them. He is not doing that. He is in fact talking to the substance of the motion and now trying to pretend that the government is hiding the report, when in fact we are making it a parliamentary paper so that it will not be hidden from anybody. Even the member for Grayndler would be able to find it.

The SPEAKER: I thank the Leader of the House. I uphold the point of order. I made that ruling very early on. The member for Grayndler is entitled to speak on why documents should be made parliamentary papers.

Mr Snowdon interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Lingiari will not interject while I am making a ruling. He is warned. The member for Grayndler heard my ruling at the start and the point of order I have upheld. He has a very narrow opportunity to speak as to why the reports should be made parliamentary papers.

Mr ALBANESE: It is absolutely within my rights to speak to a motion about why it should be made a parliamentary paper so that it can be available to members of parliament. This has been an issue, Mr Speaker—and you would know full well—of some controversy. The reason that it is significant is that we are talking about transparency. That is why it is important that it be made a parliamentary paper. It is important that the taxpayers of Australia know—as they do through this report—that the department recommended against the funding of the East West Link. The department found—and it is found in the Auditor-General's report—that neither stage 1 nor stage 2—

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I do not want to take points of order that chew up the member for Grayndler's time. That is the last thing I would seek to do. But it is really very important—

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House will come to the point of order.

Mr Pyne: It is very important, Mr Speaker, that he abide by your rulings. You have indicated to him that it is a narrow debate and he needs to talk about the technicalities of parliamentary papers, and he is not doing that.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House will resume his seat. I assure the Leader of the House that I made my ruling very early, I have upheld his point of order, and I am listening very carefully to the member for Grayndler.

Mr ALBANESE: Before members of this House vote on whether or not it should be made a parliamentary paper, on a motion moved by the Leader of the House—and I am surprised that he now seems to be opposing the motion that he has moved—and supported by me, it is important that they know—

The SPEAKER: The member for Grayndler will come to the substance of the motion.

Mr ALBANESE: It is important that they know what is in the paper before they decide whether or not it should be published. This goes to transparency. It goes to the fact that this Auditor-General's report—and I speak as a member of the Public Accounts and Audit Committee of the House of Representatives—finds very clearly that there is an absolute abuse when it comes to—

Government members interjecting

Mr ALBANESE: It absolutely has things to do with it, because I wrote to the Auditor-General, requesting this very audit take place. It was only because of—

The SPEAKER: The member for Grayndler has strayed in responding to the Leader of the House. The members for Aston and Gippsland will cease interjecting. I would urge the member for Grayndler not to respond to interjections from the Leader of the House or any other interjections.

Mr ALBANESE: Indeed, that is reasonable. I certainly think your suggestion that we ignore the Leader of the House is a good one.

The SPEAKER: The member for Grayndler will not misrepresent the Speaker, either, if he wishes to keep speaking.

Mr ALBANESE: The report states very clearly that neither stage 1 nor stage 2 of the East West Link project required Commonwealth funding in 2013-14. It then says:

Advance payments on or before 30 June 2014 would increase the deficit for 2013-14 but improve the reported position for later years.” ...

It went on further in the report to say that departmental advice to ministers—

The SPEAKER: The member for Grayndler needs to confine himself as to why the document should be a parliamentary paper.

Mr ALBANESE: The reason it should be made a parliamentary paper and available for discussion, including debate right now, is that we are talking about $1½ billion of taxpayers' money, on which the report found that the Victorian government—the then coalition government, which received this money—received interest of $49 million. That is $49 million that was given to the Victorian government that could have been paid off the deficit which they have created. The report shows very clearly that that is the case. That is why this whole debate is about transparency—and this is why it is an ongoing issue, Mr Speaker, because, as a result of the punishment of the people of Victoria for electing a Labor government, Victoria is now receiving some nine per cent of national infrastructure spending and investment, even though it is 25 per cent—

The SPEAKER: The member for Grayndler is now straying from the substance of the motion.

Mr ALBANESE: That is why this report must be made a parliamentary paper.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Grayndler will resume his seat. Members will cease interjecting.

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: you have been very generous to the member for Grayndler and I think that is probably because of his experience in this place. Talking about the Victorian state government and the relationship between the Commonwealth and the Victorian governments is hardly—

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The SPEAKER: I remind the member for Isaacs that he has already been warned. I am listening to the point of order from the Leader of the House.

Mr Pyne: relevant to the debate about whether these particular audit reports should be made parliamentary papers.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House will resume his seat. Members on my left will cease interjecting. The point that the Leader of the House made is correct—which is why I ask the member for Grayndler to bring himself back to the substance of the motion.

Mr ALBANESE: I personally agree with the Leader of the House; I am doing so on this occasion because it is important that every Victorian and every Australian taxpayer should have access to this paper. That is because they are missing out on infrastructure investment—nine per cent, in spite of the fact they are 25 per cent of the population. In addition to that, the fact is that this report shows what a shambles the federal government's infrastructure program is. (Time expired)

Question agreed to.