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Friday, 22 February 2008
Page: 1281


Mr HARTSUYKER (12:40 PM) —I grieve for the people in my electorate because of the 150 jobs that have gone as a result of the failure of the government to proceed with the Centrelink call centre. This government alleges that it is concerned for the people of Australia. This government alleges that it is concerned to create opportunities. But in fact what we have is a regional area with high unemployment, with great need, and the government has curtailed a project that was going to create great benefits. It was going to create great benefits not only for the people who received those jobs but for Centrelink customers. We all want to provide better services for the customers of Centrelink. How can failing to upgrade our call centres provide better services from Centrelink for the people who need them?

It is pure hypocrisy of the people on the other side to say that they claim to care for the people who use Centrelink services but at the same time fail to proceed with an important upgrade. They fail to allow jobs to be created in regional areas through an upgrade of our call centre services which would provide faster, more efficient services. We hear all the time in our electorates that people want better services from Centrelink, and the previous government was committed to delivering those. But in the government’s first action, when their backsides are barely on the treasury benches, they cut services to Centrelink. They cut the ability of Centrelink to provide for the people whom it is supposed to look after. It is an absolute disgrace. I cannot believe this, particularly from the new members opposite. How does the member for Bass feel when she comes into this place and the first action is to deliver the loss of jobs in her electorate?


Mr Truss —She is not even here!


Mr HARTSUYKER —She is not even here. I can see her newsletter now: ‘150 Jobs Slashed from Bass’. Hear, hear! I see the members opposite cheering about 150 jobs lost in Bass as well as 150 jobs lost in my electorate. It is a disgrace.

The expansion of call centres in regional areas makes sense for a range of reasons. It makes good economic sense as well as good service delivery sense. We have in regional areas a supply of labour available to do a range of tasks, but currently, in many cases, people are underemployed. A call centre would draw on what is perhaps currently an underutilised labour force. But what is this government doing? It is not creating opportunities in regional areas. It is not looking to improve the unemployment situation in regional areas. What it is doing is ripping jobs out of regional Australia. The member for Bass did not bother to front on the RDO. I am here putting the case forward for my electorate. The Prime Minister is not here.

Opposition members—Where is he?


Mr HARTSUYKER —We want the Prime Minister here. I want Kevin Rudd to hear what 150 jobs—

The member for Canning displaying a placard—

Honourable members interjecting—


The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms AE Burke)—Order! The member for Cowper will resume his seat. The member for Cowper will resume his seat. The member for Cowper will resume his seat! The member for Cowper will remove himself from the House under standing order 94(a) for ignoring my call.


Mr Albanese —Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. As the Leader of the Opposition knows, the Prime Minister is today visiting Indigenous communities in Walgett and then visiting flood victims in Mackay. That is what the Prime Minister is doing today. This is an extraordinary breach of the protocols of this House that the member here is continuing with. Madam Deputy Speaker, I ask that you take action on this disorderly conduct.


Mr Abbott —Madam Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: I presume you are about to sit him down because that was not a point of order.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —No. I was going to ask the member for Canning to remove himself and that article from the House.


Mr Hockey —Madam Deputy Speaker—


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —I have asked the member for Canning to remove that from the House.


Mr Hockey —Madam Deputy Speaker, I have a right to be heard.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —So do I. I am in the chair and you will hear me.


Mr Hockey —I have a right to be heard.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —And you have not heard me. I am actually in the chair and I will be heard. Under previous rulings, such articles have been asked to be removed from the House. I am asking the member for Canning to remove that from the House.

Opposition members interjecting—


Mr Hockey —Where’s the frontbench? Where are they?


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —For the benefit of the member for North Sydney, I have not made a ruling. I have asked for the offensive article—

Opposition members interjecting—


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —It is offensive. I have asked for the article to be removed from the House. The Leader of the House will resume his seat. I am on my feet.


Mr Hayes interjecting


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —The member for Werriwa is not helping. I am on my feet. I have asked for that to be removed and it will be done.


Mr Hockey —Madam Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: yesterday the Speaker of this parliament said:

The use of props is not encouraged but it is tolerated.

All week we have had the Deputy Prime Minister coming into this place with props—


Mr Albanese —Madam Deputy Speaker, given that the Leader of the Opposition gave a commitment on behalf of the opposition just an hour ago that we would have private members’ business proceeding, perhaps we can proceed with it now and stop the nonsense.


Mr Hockey —Madam Deputy Speaker, to provide absolute clarification for the House, we have had the Deputy Prime Minister introduce props to the House during the course of debate, and yesterday—

Honourable members interjecting—


Mr Hockey —I have a right to be heard.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —What is the point of order?


Mr Hockey —Yesterday, in a debate before this chamber, the Leader of the House—


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —The member for North Sydney will resume his seat.


Mr Albanese —Madam Deputy Speaker, what is this?

Opposition members interjecting—


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the House will be heard in silence.


Mr Albanese —On what basis does the member for North Sydney have the call?


Mr Hockey —Madam Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: I remind the Deputy Speaker of the Speaker’s words yesterday that the use of props is not encouraged but is tolerated. The simple point is—


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —The member for North Sydney will resume his seat. I call the member for Cowper.


Mr HARTSUYKER —Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. My people have the right to expect that their government will be here to hear their concerns.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —The member for Cowper will resume his seat.


Mr Hockey —He’s on grievance.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —He is on grievance. I called him on grievance. I have actually asked the member for Cowper to remove himself from the chamber, as he did ignore my ruling before. I let it go on, but I actually did ask the member for Cowper under 94(a)—

Honourable members interjecting—


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —The members will resume their seats. I had called the member for Cowper and I was going to remind him—I had let it go on—to remove himself from the chamber because he had been ignoring the chair.


Mr Hartsuyker —On what basis?


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —On the basis that I am in the chair and, at the time, you were ignoring the chair. I asked you to remove yourself under 94(a). Please remove yourself from—


Mr Hartsuyker interjecting


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —I let it go on and now I am asking you to remove yourself under 94(a). The member is named.