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Thursday, 12 December 2013
Page: 1647


Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Social Services) (14:29): I doubt that there has ever been a more clear and more explicit commitment by a party going into an election than that of the coalition before the last poll in promising to repeal the carbon tax. I doubt that there has ever been an election commitment that has been more oft repeated by an Australian political party than the coalition's commitment to repeal the carbon tax. What we have seen from those opposite, for as long as this parliament has been sitting since the election, has been delay, delay, delay—and that delay has had only one purpose, and that has been to seek to subvert the will of the Australian people as expressed at the last election.

We are not seeking in this motion to gag. We are not seeking to guillotine. We are seeking to afford the Australian people the opportunity for their parliament to give effect to their will. The contrast could not be greater with those on the other side. We saw those opposite in the last parliament use the gag and use the guillotine on legislation that actually sought to breach a solemn election commitment—it sought to breach the commitment given by Prime Minister Gillard to the Australian people that there would be no carbon tax under a government that she led. The former government sought to gag and guillotine debate on legislation that sought to breach an election commitment. We are doing the exact opposite. We are seeking to extend the period for debate in order to see an election commitment given effect to in the form of the legislation before this chamber. I say again, we are not proposing a gag and we are not proposing a guillotine. Those opposite, in the last session of the last parliament, guillotined 55 bills. We are seeking to afford the opportunity for an election commitment to be given effect to. What we are proposing is that this chamber sit until the job is done.

Senator Wong: What time is your flight, Mitch?

Senator FIFIELD: It's tomorrow afternoon.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my left! Senator Fifield is entitled to be heard in silence.

Senator FIFIELD: We know those opposite find it so hard to break the habit of a lifetime. They only know how to work to rule. They are not prepared to sit longer. They are not prepared to work harder. We are prepared to stay until the job is done.

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator FIFIELD: Quite frankly, you should have got the message from the Australian people at the last election. You should not be standing in the way.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my left! Senator Fifield is entitled to be heard in silence.

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my right! Senator Fifield is entitled to be heard in silence.

Senator FIFIELD: Those opposite should not stand in the way of the will of the Australian people being given effect to. We want to stay here until the work is done. Those opposite have used every procedure to delay debate. They have split the package of bills into 11 separate entities. We are barely halfway through consideration of the second piece of legislation.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! For others wishing to participate in the debate there is an opportunity after Senator Fifield has finished.

Senator FIFIELD: We are barely through the third piece of legislation in the carbon tax package. Those opposite need to get out of the way. They need to afford this chamber the opportunity to do its job. We are not proposing that question time be dispensed with—far from it. Our motion is very deliberately and very specifically worded so that if the carbon tax legislation and other important legislation is not dealt with by eight o'clock—which we know it will not be—the parliament continues to sit. Question time will still happen. That important accountability mechanism will still be in place. All we are seeking to do is afford the Australian people the opportunity to have their will expressed in this place through having the legislation put to a vote. Now we know those opposite have indicated they will vote against every piece of legislation in the carbon tax repeal package. We know they have said that, but they need to do two things. They need to allow the parliament to continue to sit so that the legislation can be put through all stages. But they need to do something more than that: they need to change their minds and they need to get out of the way and they need to allow that legislation to be passed. Those opposite do have an opportunity to reconsider, and that opportunity is very shortly when they can support this suspension motion and when they can then vote for the subsequent motion that would allow the parliament to continue to sit. They should do so. (Time expired)