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Thursday, 22 September 2011
Page: 11258


Mr FITZGIBBON (HunterChief Government Whip) (16:35): I thank the House. Tonight I want to speak about the performance of the opposition throughout this current sitting week. I would like to talk about the performance of the opposition over the last year or more, but, of course, in this short debate I do not have the time. In any case, the antics of the opposition throughout last year and the antics of the opposition throughout this week have been very similar.

Filibustering has been practised in this place for many years—indeed, decades; in fact, it goes back to Federation and the very origins of this parliament—but this week, it has to be said, the opposition have taken filibustering to dizzying heights. We would not mind that so much if they seemed to have a coherent strategy. Of course, this week we have seen no coherent strategy from the opposition whatsoever. They want to debate the carbon bills but they do not want to debate the carbon bills. They want to debate the clean energy bills but they do not want to debate the clean energy bills. In fact, it got so bizarre last night that they spent 90 minutes talking to each other, having a debate amongst themselves on that side, to argue against a motion from the Leader of the House to extend the debate on the carbon bills.

They cannot have it both ways. They cannot claim that the government is rushing through the carbon bills without giving them due consultation and consideration and argue for longer speaking opportunities, and then come in here and have a 90-minute argument with themselves to negate what was a very reasonable proposition from the Leader of the House. In fact, the proposition from the Leader of the House was designed to give every member in this place, including the member for Wentworth, an opportunity to speak on the clean energy legislation, one of the most important economic reforms we have seen in a decade. But what do they do? They take the wrecking ball out again and simply say no, no, no.

I am glad the member for Cook is in the chamber, because yesterday he was saying: 'They have to bring the migration amendment bills on for debate and for a vote. They must bring them on for debate tomorrow, because this is so important to the Australian nation.' When we announced that we were bringing them on for debate, he suddenly changed his tune. 'They are driven by guilt,' he told ABC radio, I think it was. Throughout the course of the day we saw the panic and mayhem that has been so obvious in the ranks of the coalition since the government decided to offer that debate up to the parliament throughout the course of today and beyond as necessary.

The Australian people are starting to see through this. The tactics are becoming fairly obvious. When people like the member for Berowra and the member for Warringah, the Leader of the Opposition, start attacking the Labor Party from the left on the question of migration policy, people start wondering what is going on out there. When they see members of this place who sit on that side talking to themselves for 90 minutes to negate a motion to give members greater opportunity to speak on the clean energy bills, they start to work out that something funny is going on. When they see the Leader of the Opposition almost on a daily basis change his position on these issues, the Australian public start to work out something funny is going on.

In this new paradigm, we are all learning, we are all doing things differently and we are trying to accommodate all the processes which we now face. It would be very wise and, I think, more productive for the Leader of the Opposition to cooperate just a little—forget about the no, no, no, forget about the filibustering and forget about the constant shift in policy position on a daily basis, which is undoubtedly either driven by polling or driven by his political instinct.

This side of the House stands ready to complete the debate on the clean energy bills, to pass the clean energy bills, to have a debate on the migration amendments, to pass the legislation on the migration amendment and to get this parliament running and functioning in an orderly manner. Mr Abbott, forget about the no, no, no.