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Thursday, 3 November 2011
Page: 8087


Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Attorney-General on Queensland Floods Recovery) (09:31): by leave—I move:

That the order of the Senate agreed to on 21 September 2011, relating to the hours of meeting and routine of business, be amended as follows:

   Omit paragraphs (3) to (6), substitute:

(3) On Wednesday, 9 November 2011, and Thursday, 10 November 2011, any proposal pursuant to standing order 75 shall not be proceeded with.

(4) That the provisions of paragraphs (5) to (8) of standing order 111 not apply to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency Bill 2011 and a related bill.

(5) On Thursday, 3 November 2011:

   (a) the hours of meeting shall be 9.30 am to 8.40 pm;

   (b) consideration of general business and consideration of committee reports, government responses and Auditor-General's reports under standing order 62(1) and (2) shall not be proceeded with;

   (c) the government business order of the day relating to the Clean Energy Bill 2011 and 17 related bills shall have precedence over all government business;

   (d) divisions may take place after 4.30 pm; and

   (e) the question for the adjournment of the Senate shall be proposed at 8 pm.

(6) On Tuesday, 8 November 2011:

   (a) the hours of meeting shall be 10 am to 6.30 pm and 7.30 pm to 10.40 pm;

   (b) the routine of business from 10 am to 2 pm, and from the resumption of government business till not later than 5 pm, shall be the government business order of the day relating to the Clean Energy Bill 2011 and 17 related bills, and these bills have precedence over all government business till completed;

   (c) commencing immediately after the preceding item the order of government business shall be consideration of the government business orders of the day relating to the:

      (i) Steel Transformation Plan Bill 2011, and

      (ii) Australian Renewable Energy Agency Bill 2011 and a related bill; and

   (d) the question for the adjournment of the Senate shall be proposed at 10 pm.

(7) On Wednesday, 9 November 2011:

   (a) the order of government business shall be consideration of the government business orders of the day relating to the:

      (i) Steel Transformation Plan Bill 2011, and

      (ii) Australian Renewable Energy Agency Bill 2011 and a related bill, and

      that consideration of these bills shall have precedence over all government business till 5.30 pm; and

   (b) consideration of government documents shall not be proceeded with.

(8) On Thursday, 10 November 2011:

   (a) the hours of meeting shall be 9.30 am to adjournment;

   (b) consideration of general business and committee reports, government responses and Auditor-General's reports under standing order 62(1) and (2) shall not be proceeded with, and instead the routine of business shall be government business only;

   (c) the government business order of the day relating to the Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011 and the Trade Marks Amendment (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Bill 2011 shall have precedence over all government business, except that the routine of business from 12.45 pm till not later than 2 pm shall be the following government business orders of the day:

Excise Tariff Amendment (Condensate) Bill 2011

Excise Legislation Amendment (Condensate) Bill 2011

Aviation Transport Security Amendment (Air Cargo) Bill 2011

Coal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave) Legislation Amendment Bill 2011

Tax Laws Amendment (2011 Measures No. 7) Bill 2011

Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (Participants in British Nuclear Tests) Bill 2011

Work Health and Safety Bill 2011

Work Health and Safety (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Bill 2011

Maritime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011

Navigation Amendment Bill 2011

Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Amendment (Oils in the Antarctic Area) Bill 2011;

   (d) divisions may take place after 4.30 pm; and

   (e) the question for the adjournment of the Senate shall not be proposed until a motion for the adjournment is moved by a minister.

(9) The government business order of the day relating to the Clean Energy Bill 2011 and 17 related bills be considered under a limitation of debate and that the time allotted be as follows:

   (a) on Thursday, 3 November 2011, from not later than 3.45 pm to 4 pm—second reading; and

   (b) on Tuesday, 8 November 2011, from not later than 11 am to noon—all remaining stages.

(10) The government business order of the day relating to the Steel Transformation Plan Bill 2011 be considered under a limitation of debate and that the time allotted be as follows:

   on Wednesday, 9 November 2011, from not later than 10 am to 11.30 am—all remaining stages.

(11) The government business order of the day relating to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency Bill 2011 and a related bill be considered under a limitation of debate and that the time allotted be as follows:

      on Wednesday, 9 November 2011, from the completion of the Steel Transformation Plan Bill 2011 till 5.30 pm—all remaining stages.

(12) The government business order of the day relating to the Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011 and a related bill be considered under a limitation of debate and that the time allotted be as follows:

on Thursday, 10 November 2011:

from not later than 3.45 pm till 7 pm—second reading

from 7 pm till 8 pm—committee stage

from 8 pm till 8.30 pm—all remaining stages.

(13) Paragraphs (9) to (12) of this order operate as a limitation of debate under standing order 142.

I table a statement of reasons relating to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency Bill 2011 and a related bill, and seek leave to have the statement incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows—

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2011 SPRING SITTINGS

AUSTRALIAN RENEWABLE ENERGY AGENCY BILL 2011 AND

AUSTRALIAN RENEWABLE ENERGY AGENCY (CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS AND TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS) BILL 2011

Purpose of the Bills

These bills create the independent statutory authority, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and a statutory position of Chief Executive Officer of ARENA.

The bills confer functions and powers to allow the ARENA Board to make independent and binding grant funding decisions for renewable energy and related technology innovation funding currently administered by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism and the Australian Solar Institute (ASI). ARENA will be responsible for awarding grant funding and other forms of financial assistance for the research, development, demonstration, deployment and commercialisation of renewable energy and related technologies and projects.

The bills further make consequential amendments to the proposed Clean Energy Regulator Act 2011; repeal the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy Act 2010; and transfer the policy advisory and related functions provided by the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy to ARENA.

The bills also incorporate the functions, responsibilities and activities of the ASI into the ARENA.

Reasons for Urgency

The bills require urgent drafting for the 2011 Spring Sittings period. This is to allow the bills to be considered alongside other legislative bills being considered in the sitting period that are part of the Australian Government's carbon price legislative package.

If these bills are not considered alongside the other legislative bills that enable measures agreed as part of the carbon price package, this could impede consideration and passage of the Clean Energy Future legislative package through Parliament.

The need for these bills was previously unseen, as the formation of ARENA was only recently agreed.

Senator LUDWIG: This motion is to facilitate the consideration of government legislation in the Senate, including the clean energy package of bills and a number of bills which include the steel, ARENA and tobacco bills. First, let me summarise this motion's effect, should it be passed, for the information of the chamber. The second reading debate on the clean energy package will draw to a close this afternoon at 3.45 pm. The committee stage of the package follows, with all government business time on Monday to be spent in committee on the bills. The committee stage will be completed by 11 am on Tuesday, 8 November. The Senate will then debate the steel bill at 10 am on Wednesday, 9 November. The Senate will debate the steel bill till 11:30 am on Wednesday, 9 November, and then move to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency Bill and a related bill till 5.30 pm that day. After private senators' business and housekeeping on Thursday, 10 November, a range of non-controversial legislation is listed for debate and in the afternoon the tobacco package will be debated and finalised.

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator LUDWIG: I say to the opposition that they will shortly have an opportunity to put their grievances. However, at this point I am trying to outline for the information of the Senate what the hours will be. There are also two minor changes to sitting times. The Senate will commence at 10 am on Tuesday, 8 November. The adjournment will be a little later, as on Thursday, 10 November.

I have moved this motion because it has become quite clear that the opposition will do almost anything to delay voting on the clean energy legislation. Yesterday the Senate spent 3½ hours debating a relatively minor committee matter that could have been resolved out of the chamber. Instead the opposition chose to waste a significant amount of government time and to avoid debate on the clean energy bills. This is in addition to the hours previously spent in these spring sittings debating procedural motions: over two hours to set up the joint select committee on the clean energy package and over three hours on setting up the initial motion for this fortnight's sitting. That is a total of five hours on procedural motions, not on the substantive matters, not on the actual bills themselves, but on procedural motions only. The Senate, as I think is demonstrated by those opposite, seems to be unable to use its time constructively to debate the substantive matters. It is no surprise that in the sitting week in September the Senate spent just 33 per cent of its time on government legislation.

This time wasting has meant that the government is simply forced to move this motion today given the enormous amount of time that the opposition have spent on procedural motions. The Senate has to clear time for finalising significant legislation in a predictable way so that there is also space for the remaining legislation within the program. Notwithstanding the opposition's attempt to continue to use procedural matters to debate and waste time, the government is trying to achieve a balance between ensuring there is reasonable time on the clean energy package and allowing time for the consideration of bills. So far more than 40 senators have spoken on the clean energy package in the Senate. This motion contains reasonable time for committee consideration of the bills over three days, assuming that the opposition do not continue to get up to procedural shenanigans and waste their time when they could be dealing with the substantive matter within the bills. But we do already know the outcome of any opposition consideration: they will not support the bills, regardless of their complaint. They are crying crocodile tears here today. They are already clearly on the record as opposing the bills outright. They have already indicated that should these bills pass they will repeal them if they get into government. They have made their position obvious.

Let me summarise how much time we have spent on debate even though we know the opposition will continue to oppose. So far there have been nearly 55 hours of debate on the clean energy package in the parliament, and this motion allows for more. As of today more than 170 parliamentarians have spoken on the package, including 75 coalition MPs. This is a longer debate than the former Howard government allowed on the GST, on Work Choices or on the sale of Telstra. In addition to debate in the chambers, there have been hundreds of hours of committee hearings on the clean energy package. There have been 36 parliamentary inquiries and from the 2007 election until the defeat of the CPRS there were 13 parliamentary inquiries relating to climate change and the CPRS legislation. Those bills were considered twice by the Senate and there were over 63 hours of debate. Only the native title legislation and GST debates come close to that.

By any measure the Senate has spent a massive amount of time on legislation to which the opposition remains implacably opposed, and it is time for the chamber to focus on finalising the issue and moving the legislation on before the end of the sitting year. We want to get on with a number of other bills in the last two weeks of parliament as well. Those opposite continue to harp on with the same line. It is a refrain that I have heard from the opposition during five or six hours of procedural debate. I do not intend to take up my full time because I want to give the opposition the opportunity to deal with this motion and then the legislation. If they want to state their position on procedural motions then they can, but ultimately they should get on with the substantive task of debating the clean energy package. But I do not think they will. I think they will continue to argue and argue on procedural matters, which just demonstrates that they have lost their way.