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Monday, 22 August 2011
Page: 5034


Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Attorney-General on Queensland Floods Recovery) (16:28): I know those opposite get excited at the drop of a hat, but this is a little ridiculous. Let us come back to the debate. Senator Cormann identified that it is actually about the suspension. He then went quiet when his own lot got up and started talking about the substantive issue.

Senator Cormann: Your coalition partner set the precedent. Why didn't you jump up and raise a point of order? You're just too weak.

Senator LUDWIG: He remains a little embarrassed about his contribution but it is there in Hansard to read. We are debating the suspension, not the substantive matter. The record clearly shows—

Senator Cormann: I didn't hear you when your coalition partner was on his feet.

Senator LUDWIG: Have you finished? Your contribution is very unhelpful—as it always is.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! Through the chair, Senator Ludwig. And those on my left will cease interjecting.

Senator LUDWIG: Sorry, Mr Deputy President. We support Senator Brown's motion 359. The opposition continue—and they have demonstrated again—their complete opposition to the Tasmanian Forest Intergovernmental Agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the state of Tasmania. Why? Because they do not want measures like the Australian and Tasmanian governments providing up to $85 million to provide employee assistance, retraining and relocation. They do not want $276 million to secure jobs, diversify the Tasmanian economy and provide for the ongoing sustainability of the forest industry. They would rather sit on the other side and blow out the argument—rant and rave and complain. That is a very good characterisation of the opposition. That is all they can do. Rather than be constructive, rather than put their minds to how we can support Tasmania, rather than consider this, all they want to do is complain, complain and complain.

We are not dealing with the substantive issue today. We are dealing with a motion to suspend standing orders. The government will not agree to the suspension. I know that will disappoint Senator Brown. The reason the government will not agree to this suspension is that we know the opposition were playing petty politics with this motion anyway by not supporting its formality—

Senator Colbeck interjecting

Senator LUDWIG: They are still complaining. They do not realise that we are about substantive reform. The opposition continue to harp. That is all the opposition can do. We will not support the suspension, on the basis that there is legislation that the government wants to proceed with today and there will be time to debate this in the future. It will go to general business as a conse­quence of the silly actions of those opposite, who simply do not want to debate it, do not want it to matter.

Senator Colbeck interjecting

Senator LUDWIG: Then I am sure you will commit general business on Thursday to this debate. Let me hear that you commit general business on Thursday to this debate. I do not hear you agree to that. You do not want to debate it at all. Why don't you commit general business on Thursday to debate this? You will not do that. Why? Because you do not actually want to debate it; you want to use the suspension, because you have only got five minutes in you to be able to argue about it. That is all—only five minutes.

Senator Colbeck interjecting

Senator LUDWIG: Well, you have had your five minutes and you still cannot keep silent, because all you want to do is interject. You are completely hopeless at it in any event.

The reality of the matter is that we will get on with government business. The opposition would rather up-end this joint, would rather not allow the proper process to continue. Those opposite only want to complain. It is a culture of complaint that you have developed in opposition that you now continue with unendingly. It is a pity that you do not turn as much energy to policy development as you do to the culture of complaint that you have now developed.

An agreement between environmental organisations and the Tasmanian forestry organisation on the Tasmanian Forests Statement of Principles—

Senator Colbeck interjecting

Senator LUDWIG: And you now have demonstrated that all you can do is interject. You cannot engage in the substantive debate. It is about a suspension. I heard nothing from the other side to argue their case. All they want to do is harp and take a negative, carping approach.

Senator Colbeck: Bring it on!

Senator LUDWIG: Let me understand this. You will agree that this debate be dealt with in general business on Thursday, because that is where it is able to be debated? I do not hear you. (Time expired)

Question negatived.