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Thursday, 3 November 2011
Page: 8162

Senator PARRY (TasmaniaDeputy President of the Senate and Chairman of Committees) (13:52): I too rise to speak on the clean energy bills. I will start by indicating to the chamber that the name Clean Energy Bill is a false name. Why could the government not be honest and call it the carbon tax bill? The names of the bills in this package are a disguise that do not really indicate what the bills are. That follows on from the other false premises that belie the bills, their passage and the speeches that we have heard.

I am very disappointed about the passage of these bills. Senator Fifield articulated his feelings very clearly this morning. First of all, the government would not concede that more debating time was needed for this suite of bills, the largest and most significant pieces of legislation to have come before this chamber in many years if not in the history of the Commonwealth. It beggars belief that more debating time has not been allocated to such a suite of bills. Then we lost the motion to allow sufficient time to debate the bills and to have Senate committees investigate different aspects of the bills, because we did not have the numbers. To add insult to injury, the government finally agreed with its masters, the Greens, and organised a two-week debate. This was the week for the second reading debate, which we are engaged in, and next week was for the entire committee stage. We were not comfortable with that, but we thought that at least we had two weeks. We knew that was engineered to facilitate others going to the world stage and alluding that Australia is now leading the world. So the two weeks were there, allocated for us to debate these bills. Then, this morning, without notice to us, apart from late notice yesterday, the time allowed for the debates was altered. It appears that it was adjusted to suit others who want to grandstand next week at a certain time to fit in with a demonstration, parade or celebration outside of Parliament House.

To engineer the passage of legislation to suit external celebrations—one wonders what some of them will be celebrating—is a very poor way to treat this house and this chamber. It was not sufficient that senators, no doubt including Senator Bob Brown, could go to Durban and indicate that Australia had passed the legislation—the numbers are there so the bills will pass—it now has to have a domestic demonstration as well. As a result, the entire period for proper scrutiny and debate has been truncated to suit a demonstration in Canberra next week. This is an appalling set of circumstances. If the government can prove that there is another reason for that, let them come and prove it. I do not think they can. They are beholden to their Greens master. I know for a fact that, as they wander into the chamber, Labor senators will probably hang their heads in shame, because they know as well as I do that they do not want this carbon tax. They are getting pressure from home. They are getting the indications from their constituents, who are saying: 'Why on earth are you supporting these bills? Why are you subservient,'—and subservient is the correct term—'to the Green party?'

The Australian Greens are the masters of the Labor Party's destiny. The Labor Party brand has been very severely diminished through its acquiescence to the Greens. That is a sad state of affairs in itself, but to truncate this debate to suit an external demonstration outside Parliament House, a celebration of what I consider to be nothing to celebrate, is a real travesty of the proper processes of this place. I hope Labor reflect long and hard on this. Senator Ludwig moved the motion this morning, acting on the instructions of new masters. My dealings with Senator Ludwig, when I was Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate, were always ones of honourable consideration. If Senator Ludwig gave you his word that we would have two weeks for debate, we would have two weeks for debate. So, knowing that it was not a motion of his doing, it must have been very difficult for someone like Senator Ludwig to stand up here this morning and move that motion. I sincerely hope that it was not a motion of the Labor Party's doing either. They are clutching at the reins of government by being subservient to their masters. I know they know that. I know from conversations in this place that the Labor Party are not happy with the direction they have been taken on these bills and on other matters because of their new masters. I hope they think long and hard, and I hope the public of Australia reflect their view about this at the next election. Hopefully, the next ballot will come sooner rather than later for the sake of this great country.

It was bad enough to say that we would not have a carbon tax, as the Prime Minister announced before the election. The party was campaigning strongly—there was no equivocation; it was a very strong, firm commitment that there would be no carbon tax. Think about what that does. I know people whose vote and preferences were decided upon that commitment, as do my colleagues. Promising one thing and doing completely the opposite is a very fraudulent way to obtain government. That marries in completely with the attitude of the Labor Party today in truncating debate for the sole purpose of allowing grandstanding in a way we have probably never seen before. That process does not augur well for the Labor Party, which, while it might have philosophical differences to this side from time to time, has never stooped so low as to be beholden to another party, particularly one that wants to run the entire Labor agenda and move it away from its commitments to its grassroots constituents. This will come back and bite the Labor Party at some stage. Again, I hope that stage happens sooner rather than later. Prior to the last election and this morning, we have seen a change in the values of what was once a party respected for its beliefs, commitment and honesty. Many decisions over that period have shown the new, true colours of the Australian Labor Party.

Debate interrupted.