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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3275


Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (18:30): Those opposite seem to have trouble working out which decade or century in history they are landing on at any particular point in time. But I am pleased that at least there is one instance where the members of the crossbench have had the opportunity to contribute to this debate, because the government has treated this chamber with absolute contempt today. It is completely the government's right to bring this bill on and to ask for it to be considered. But, as far as I am aware, in the one day of debate that we have had, not one member of the crossbench has had the opportunity to contribute, despite seeking to contribute to the debate. And here we are now at five minutes to midnight with the opportunity to make a very small contribution and to ask a question of the minister. This is critical because the government has said that this is cornerstone legislation for it and that it has been working towards this for some time. The government has also said that there are some 10,000 regulations and some 50,000 pages of regulations that are affected. On my calculation—and I would stand to be corrected, and maybe the member for Kooyong can correct me on this—this House has had 1.7 seconds of debate per regulation. That is 1.7 seconds to debate each regulation that has come before it. The problem is that when you have 10,000 regulations and only a very small period of time to debate it, it is impossible to work out what the consequences of repealing each of those regulations is, without proper scrutiny from the parliament.

Some have said that one of the regulations in question may have the effect of reducing the take-home pay for cleaners who work on government contracts. This is a point that the Leader of the Opposition made, and it was made in public, but I note that the opposition is coming in here today saying it is all a stunt. Well, in the newspaper a few days ago the Leader of the Opposition said that one of the regulations stank, because it was going to cut contract cleaners' pay; so I will be interested to see why the opposition is preparing to support that particular regulation. So my question to the relevant minister is this: given the reports and claims that have been made, and the fact that you have not allowed adequate time for debate here and that there has not been parliamentary scrutiny of this bill, can you guarantee that no person's pay will be affected negatively by any of the regulations or any of the elements of any of the bills, given the claims that have been made to the contrary?