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Thursday, 17 June 2010
Page: 3648


Senator PARRY (1:45 PM) —I rise to speak on the Export Market Development Grants Amendment Bill 2010. My esteemed colleague Senator Ian Macdonald will be talking substantively to this bill. However, I wish to place on record some remarks, and to make two requests of Senator Ludwig, through the opportunity presented by this debate on the second reading.

I ask that Minister Ludwig request that the Prime Minister and Minister Albanese apologise to the Senate for the comments that they have made in the media in the last 48 hours indicating that the Senate does not progress matters and that the Senate is ‘obstructionist’. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Eighteen pieces of legislation have just been passed in this chamber. That legislation has been negotiated and discussed behind the scenes over the last three weeks. Minister Albanese should have realised that discussions take place between shadow ministers and ministers concerning legislation. We came to an arrangement. We deemed that the legislation was in the best interests of the country and brought it into a session called ‘non-controversial legislation’. We have been going for nearly two hours discussing that legislation, and it has passed the chamber.

I remind the minister to put it to the Prime Minister and Minister Albanese that 18 pieces of legislation have gone through the Senate—and this one, the 19th piece of legislation, is going through the Senate—in this ‘non-controversial legislation’ section. Secondly, I again ask the minister to ask the Prime Minister and Mr Albanese to apologise to the Australian people for indicating that the Senate is ‘obstructionist’—and also for Minister Albanese indicating this morning that the PPL legislation would not pass this place. It has passed. It has gone to the House of Representatives. And what is more, we will facilitate the passage of this legislation when it comes back from the House of Representatives this afternoon. We will interrupt, again, our own matters for discussion in general business this afternoon to facilitate the progress of this legislation. So I request very strongly that we receive that apology from the Prime Minister and Minister Albanese, and also that they both apologise to the public for their very misleading comments blaming the Senate for their own inadequacies in developing a proper legislative agenda.