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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13182


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (16:56): One of my favourite movies is The Hunt for Red October. There is a great scene at the end of the movie—and Dr Jensen would appreciate it, given his understanding of military issues—in which the Soviets have lost a new class of submarine, which is what The Hunt for Red October is all about. In the scene at the end of the movie the Soviet ambassador goes to the office of the Secretary of Defense, I think it was, and says, 'Mr Secretary, we have lost another submarine.' The Secretary of Defense says, 'Mr Ambassador, are you telling me we have lost another submarine?' and so the conversation goes. Well, here we have another amendment by the government to its own legislation. It is like The Hunt for Red October; it is the search for yet another mistake by the old Soviet Empire—not much different from the current equivalent we have on the Treasury benches today.

The government said that the commencement provisions within the bill state that it will start no later than 1 January 2013, but now they are changing it again; and when the bill becomes an act it will be on the day of proclamation. This is all pretty embarrassing for the government, but it is no surprise really.

I am a little disappointed in the performance of the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation. It is not the first time we have had trouble with commencement dates, as we did with FOFA. Now we know that the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation has failed to track his own legislation. He is now creating last-minute amendments in the Senate to a bill that relies on the passage of a bill currently before the House. All of this is to prevent industry from having to rely, for its guidance, on the passage of legislation that is yet to go through this hung parliament. So this is another example of the shambolic nature of the passage of legislation through this place.

I am glad the parliamentary secretary is at the table. He has just put out a media release in relation to unclaimed money. The Treasury Legislation Amendment (Unclaimed Money and Other Measures) Bill 2012 was a bill which, according to him, was absolutely urgent—which had to be rushed through the House of Representatives on the Thursday of the last sitting. On the floor of this House, members clearly illustrated their discomfort with rushing it through. But now the parliamentary secretary has said that the government are making a huge number of changes to the unclaimed money and other measures bill and that they are going to try and ram those changes through. So you can see that the government are a shambolic mess when it comes to legislation. They are constantly amending their own legislation in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. They state to the Australian people that certain legislation must be dealt with urgently and then we find, as a result of the most cursory consideration of a bill before the chamber, that the government have to make further amendments simply to tread water in the passage of their legislation. In relation to the unclaimed money and other measures bill, we will look very closely at the proposed amendments and we will reserve our position.

On this one, however, we are going to save the minister from himself. He tries hard, the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation. He really does put in a sterling effort. He gives it his all. He does not quite cut the mustard, but we in the coalition are feeling exceedingly generous today. We try to help this minister through all of these problems. We know that he does not understand.

Mr Shorten: That is very generous of you. I will try to improve.

Mr HOCKEY: I see it as to our advantage to make him look good at the moment. I am on the 'Bill for leader' campaign and I am trying to do my level best to try to help him look a little bit better. So the coalition is not going to oppose this. No matter how flawed it may be, we think we can live with a change to the commencement date in order to help this minister through yet another bungle which is going to have an impact on Australian business.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Mitchell ): I thank the member for North Sydney. I call—

Mr Hockey: It is he who should be thanking me.