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Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Page: 7125


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) (09:32): I move:

That—

(1)   Divisions may take place before 12.30 pm on Monday, 31 October 2011 and 7 November 2011.

(2)   On Wednesday, 12 October 2011:

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

   (b)   the consideration of government documents shall not be proceeded with; and

   (c)   the question for the adjournment of the Senate shall be proposed after all questions relating to the introduction of the Clean Energy Bill 2011 and 17 related bills have been finally considered.

This motion ensures that the Senate has the capacity to introduce the clean energy package into the chamber today. It allows time for the message to come across from the House, which will occur at some point today. This hours motion allows that message to be disposed of so that the bills are then available for debate in the period that has been set aside in the next couple of weeks.

I anticipate the opposition will oppose this motion. They will again revisit the many arguments that they have already run. Their position of opposing the bills is quite well known. They do not want the legislation to be dealt with in the House and they do not want them to be dealt with in the Senate. They are using every procedural device to avoid the debate and to avoid the passage of this legislation. It is historic legislation. The opposition—

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator LUDWIG: I hear the interjections. The chamber of course is familiar with the opposition arguments. In recent weeks, in addition to speaking against procedure motions such as this one on the clean energy bills, the opposition have also used every possible MPI to condemn the emerging consensus of the parliament on the need to place a price on carbon.

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator LUDWIG: That the opposition are still denying that there is consensus, as we hear across the chamber today, is quite remarkable. They are now taking every opportunity to oppose what is simply a procedural motion that would be unnecessary if they were to treat the message as they would any other message that comes across from the House and is usually introduced and dealt with. We now hear from the opposition that they cannot even allow the usual message procedures of this house to be dealt with. That is why I now go to the extreme of putting in an hours motion to allow the message to come across. What that means is that those opposite are going to waste the Senate's time by arguing the same argument on procedural motions again and again.

The government maintains that these bills have had detailed scrutiny over the past year, with the policy issues subject to literally dozens of committee inquiries over the past 20 years. The issues are well settled. It is time to get on with the business of dealing with the legislation and of responding to the legislation. Those opposite do not need to take up the procedural issue to argue their case. They will have ample time set aside during the second reading debate for their speeches to argue their case. That is the appropriate time and place for that argument to be had. They will be able to use the time available, their 20 minutes, to argue these matters, as they have done in the past. Should it be passed, the hours motion will allow the message to come across so that the bills will be available for the debate. But we know that the opposition will take up the same argument at every opportunity. We will hear it again and again even during procedural motions on matters that this Senate would otherwise allow to come across as a simple message and be dealt with according to the usual Senate principles. Those opposite are condemning themselves by opposing legislation on which there is a consensus in this place.

I do not intend to take up the same time, but I encourage those opposite to confine themselves to the procedural matters of the Senate. In fact, even this one would be unnecessary if those opposite had taken the usual course of allowing these bills to come across from the House and be introduced so that they could put their case, so that they could use the time that the Senate has set aside for the bills to be debated. We now know that the clean energy bills have passed the third reading in the House, and so they will shortly be available to come across so that there is an opportunity for the Senate to take its time. With that short address, I would encourage those opposite to confine themselves just to the procedural motion.