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Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Page: 2385


Mr TEHAN (Wannon) (19:50): I rise tonight to call on this parliament to bring the Wild Rivers (Environmental Management) Bill before it. I especially call on the Independents and, in particular, Rob Oakeshott, to honour the agreement they made—

The SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Wannon will refer to the honourable member for Lyne by his title and not by his name.

Mr TEHAN: I call on the member for Lyne, in particular, to honour the agreement that he made with this parliament and see this bill come before this House. The wild rivers bill overrides the Queensland government's Wild Rivers Act, which has effectively taken way Aboriginal land rights on Cape York. Under the act there can be no development of any kind within one kilometre of any stream flowing into a designated wild river, without ministerial permission. The process required to obtain permission is not only beyond the capacity of local Aboriginal people and their organisations; it is even beyond that of large mining companies, as the abandonment of a proposal for a new bauxite mine near Weipa has shown.

The wild rivers bill has the enthusiastic support of local Indigenous leaders, including Noel Pearson and the chairman of the Cape York Land Council. So the bill should be allowed to be brought before this parliament. But instead, what has happened? The bill has been considered by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture, Resources, Fisheries and Forestry and twice by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee and now it is being referred to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs. It has not been allowed to be brought before this House, and that is a disgrace. How is this process being handled? It is being deferred from coming before this House by actions of the House select committee.

The reason I am worked up about this matter is comments made by the member for Lyne to David Spears on Sky News on 27 February. David Spears said:

Tony Abbott has introduced legislation into this parliament. The wild rivers legislation is one example of it, so it is unfair to say that he is simply being completely negative. Rob Oakeshott: Yes, well, where is it?

David Spears: It's gone to a committee, hasn't it?

Rob Oakeshott: Yes, so you know. He can negotiate that through. He can talk to all the parties involved. No-one is holding him up.

Well, they are. The House select committee is holding him up. It is referring this bill to five committees so that it cannot come before this House. Let us have a look at what the member for Lyne said in the courtyard when he made that famous 18-minute speech.

We do value the vote in the parliament and our communities recognise that. We will commit to maintaining as much as possible full voting rights on all issues before the parliament.

Honour your word. Let it come before this House. What is in the Agreement for a Better Parliament, on parliamentary reform?

For these improvements to work it will take a commitment by all MPs to respect the cultural change that these changes bring. While the community demands a feisty and testing parliamentary floor, there will be a need for recognition by all to allow more MPs to be involved in various roles and debates, to allow more community issues to be tested through private members voting.

That is exactly what we want to see.

Sadly, it seems in this case that the member for Lyne has caught 'Gillard's disease'. For those of you who have never heard of this disease—

The SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Wannon knows well enough to refer to the honourable the Prime Minister by her title.

Mr TEHAN: It seems that the member for Lyne has caught a rare disease. For those of you who have never heard of this rare disease I will inform you of its symptoms: an inability to lie straight in bed; an inability to look people in the eye; and an inability to answer any question with a straight and honest yes or no. The member for Lyne should stop this charade. The member for Lyne should understand what is happening to this bill—five times referred to a committee to stop it coming before this parliament. It is time that he acted. It is time that the House select committee acted and brought this bill to this floor so that we can vote on it.

The SPEAKER: If the honourable member for Wannon is referring to the Selection Committee of which I am the chairman, he ought to look at the standing orders of the House.