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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3143


Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (09:41): The parliament has had a very short period to deal with what is, on the government's own admission, a significant tranche of repeal legislation. In the time we have had, stakeholders have looked over the regulations that are to be repealed as well as the legislation and have turned up a number of worrying landmines buried in these provisions. We find, for example, not because the government drew our attention to it but because someone else did the digging and found out, that cleaners on government contracts, including potentially to clean this place, stand to have their wages cut by up to 25 per cent if this repeal day legislation passes. That is one thing that has been found out. An estimated 50,000 pages of regulations and some 9,500 regulations are on the chopping block.

The government has the perfect right to say we are going to spend a whole day debating this, but there should be maximum scrutiny applied to this legislation. It might well be that much of it is uncontroversial but it might also be that there are some landmines buried in there, as has been found already. This parliament has the right to scrutinise this legislation. The government has the right to put it up, but this parliament has the right to debate and scrutinise it. One would have thought that, with something so significant, with so many pages of regulations, it would be a perfect opportunity for a committee to look at it to see whether there is anything buried in there and for the parliament to debate the matter fully. A week is not enough, and a week is not enough given that it comes on the back of this government having had us debate virtually nothing at all. There has been plenty of opportunity; there have been plenty of hours to fill.

Apparently closing the debate at 5.30 tonight will give everyone enough time to make their contribution. Looking at those on the speakers list at the moment, if everyone spoke for as long as they are entitled to under the standing orders we would have some 14 hours of debate. Yet this motion suggests truncating it to less than six hours. For what the government says is a signature component of its legislative agenda we should have more than six hours of debate in this parliament. It makes you wonder what else there is buried in this legislation that the government wants to hide. The government talks gleefully about this being a bonfire of deregulations, but everyone knows you do not stand too close to a bonfire or you get burnt, and what you do not do is start chucking kerosene on it and saying we have to get this done very quickly. That is what the government is doing at the moment.

The Greens' real concern is that in this bonfire of regulations the government is hiding its true agenda in the smoke. For that reason, whatever position people ultimately come to on the merits of the bill, we should not be gagging debate, especially when the government has nothing else for this House to debate in its place.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Vasta ): The question is that the motion be agreed to.