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Order In The House -

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(generated from captions) Welcome to: in Federal Parliament. A review of the week's business coalition policy. WorkChoices is no longer of this bill. We will not oppose the passage Flip, flop, flap and then fuddle. on hand Sometimes I'll have the details and sometimes I won't. Sometimes I won't. who may or not have the detail, But we now have a treasurer theory, let alone practice. who doesn't know basic economic confident of the house, The treasure has the absolute the government, the parliament. its support for WorkChoices The opposition abandoned into an humiliating back down. forcing deputy leader Julie Bishop Relations Amendment Bill. oppose the passage of the Workplace The opposition will not seek to However, we will move an amendment right balance between flexibility that we believe will strike the and fairness in workplace relations. The proposed amendment individual employment contract will seek to enhance the new

government in this legislation that is being introduced by the in workplace bargaining an option to ensure that there is available a long-term individual contract. for employees and employers for I am pleased that the Rudd government for individual agreements acknowledges the need to continue for up to five years by allowing existing agreements

new individual statutory agreement and through the introduction of a no-disadvantage test. subject to a new legislation last week. I first received a copy of this My consultations over the past week new individual contract confirm that Labor's should be a long-term feature relations system. of Australia's workplace of 31 December 2009 to delete the global expiry date Therefore, my amendment will seek employment agreements and give these new Labor individual from the date of approval. an expiry date of five years criteria We have maintained the eligibility agreements for employers for Labor's individual employment contracts prior to 31 December 2007. who had offered individual could have a significant impact However, we acknowledge that this wish to avail themselves on new businesses or employers who bargaining arrangement. of the option of an individual bill to a committee, The Senate has in fact referred this the Senate inquiry should consider. and this is the kind of issue that has not been accompanied Labor's industrial relations policy or any impact statement, by any economic analysis or modelling to a committee. the Senate to refer this bill and hence the necessity for Minister for Employment The Minister for Education and and Social Inclusion and Workplace Relations

employers who use these agreements The minister has also demonised and industry sectors. of individual employers and has attacked the integrity relentless attacks on employers, After months of these a new individual workplace agreement. the minister then introduces this agreement is only transitional The minister will argue that

for the next two years. but that it will be fair for workers two years, it will no longer be fair. Then, for some reason, after agreements Surely this is impossible if these no-disadvantage test. are to be subject to Labor's new the eyes of Labor After all, what could be fairer in designed and introduced by Labor than a new individual contract new no-disadvantage test and subject to a designed and introduced by Labor?

attacks on employers I can assure the minister that her individual agreements and her hypocrisy on the matter of in the business community. have not gone unnoticed I watched the press conference of the Opposition today. of the Deputy Leader carefully I have to say that I listened that press conference, but, having listened to what on earth is going on. I have no idea Leader of the Opposition This is the same Deputy

going to defend AWAs who said that she was

to the death. with a no-disadvantage test quotes as saying that she would not She was reported in the newspaper in be "complicit in a downturn"-

will resume her seat. The deputy Prime Minister

with a point of order. The deputy Leader of the Opposition by the Deputy Prime Minister. Mr Speaker, I should not be misquoted

that I will defend the right If she wishes to quote where I said enter into individual agreements- of employees and employers to Opposition will resume her seat. Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition feels aggrieved If the Deputy Leader of the of the House that she can use. by misquotes, she has other forms I say to the Deputy Prime Minister answer. she is verging on debating the Deputy Prime Minister. Thank you very much. Well, I read the newspaper reports have them. and some of our friends upstairs The member for North Sydney. Order.

question in relation Mr Speaker, it was a specific to the marketing of WorkChoices. was not asked about alternative views The Deputy Prime Minister

the question that she was asked. and I ask you to bring her back to questions, If she cannot answer her own we are happy to take over. Based on the five words interruption, that were uttered since the previous where the response was going. it was a bit hard for me to know she is required to be relevant. The Deputy Prime Minister knows that

The Deputy Prime Minister. WorkChoices, On the question of marketing of the Howard-Costello government. of course, WorkChoices was the policy it the policy of now?' We need to ask, 'Who is of the Opposition We know the Deputy Leader no-disadvantage test. wanted AWAs with a she is going to amend the bill, Now she does not know whether the bill, whether she is not going to amend the Senate, whether she is going to amend it in it in the Senate- whether she is not going to amend has been rock solid Our position on industrial relations leading up to the 2007 election. throughout the year Everyone knows what we stood for. we would abolish AWAs. We would abolish WorkChoices, parity from those opposite. We have not seen so far parallel positions. opposite is an evolution of In fact, what we have seen from those us just after the election that We had the opposition leader telling WorkChoices was dead. Then straight afterwards they unleashed the Senate to try and give WorkChoices some mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, bring it back to life and make sure that our legislation in the Senate would be frustrated to the greatest extent possible. Now we have the third iteration, the third evolution, coming out of the party room today. As of today, Tuesday, I think WorkChoices is off again. I think it has gone again, but I am not altogether clear

and I would like some clarification from those opposite. We have had flip, flop and flap when it comes to the whole question of WorkChoices and the future of AWAs. I gather we are up to the flap stage but I am all ears to hear what the current status of Liberal Party policy is formally on WorkChoices and AWAs for the future. If the Liberal Party is returned to office in the future, and whichever group within the Liberal Party happens to have assumed dominance by that stage, where will their industrial relations policy stand at that point? I know that the Leader of the Opposition's Chief of Staff is gung-ho on this stuff; he comes from ACCI.

I know that a whole lot of people are gung-ho on this stuff. So, once they get the chance, as happened before the 2004 election, whatever is said before the election, we know one thing for certain: what they say before the election they will turn turtle on after the election. We've got flip, flop, flap now on WorkChoices. If they return to office,

the guarantee is that we will have another extreme, hard-line approach to industrial relations because the party opposite has lost its way and lost touch altogether with working families. Labor would have you believe that the strong economy has come about through good luck. The mining boom fell into the nation's lap like manna from heaven. Labor would have you believe that workplace reforms did not play a role. The truth is that the mining boom would have passed Australia by if we had not become a reliable supplier to world markets. If Australia had continued to be a country beset by industrial disputation, we would not have been considered a reliable trading partner for the emerging economies, including China, or for our more traditional partners, including Japan and Korea. Last weekend, I spoke to a number of senior mining industry executives. One told of his experience in the mining sector over 20 years. In the early 1990s, he left Australia to work overseas.

At that time, the sector was suffering constant industrial disputation.

There were strikes over the most insignificant of issues. In fact, in his sector there had been a strike over the flavour of ice-cream at the site kiosk. In his particular resource sector at the time, South American mining companies were the preferred suppliers

as they were more reliable than Australian ones. South American mining companies were more reliable than Australian mining companies in their ability to deliver on time. This executive returned to Australia about two years ago. He described the resources sector of today as a different planet from that of the early 1990s. He said he was stunned at the change of culture, the gains in productivity and the cooperation between management and staff to ensure the smooth and efficient running of this particular operation. He pointed out that Australia had overtaken South America as the preferred supplier, but that we remain in a highly competitive environment and cannot afford any hint of a return to the bad old days of industrial disruption.

In 1992, 1.6 million working days were lost to strikes. This has fallen dramatically to now be at the lowest level in more than 100 years. There are workplaces that have not experienced a strike in a decade. We are in a period of industrial harmony that is unprecedented, and it is no coincidence that we are also in a period of unprecedented economic growth. Why have we entered a period of industrial harmony, which has delivered real wage increases? It is because there is no compulsion for employers and employees

to have unwanted third parties interfering in the bargaining process. If employees wish to have a third party negotiate on their behalf, that is their right and they are able to do so, but it should not be forced upon them. We have before the House the legislation that delivers the first bit of that policy, and we will have a substantive bill that delivers the rest of the policy. But the certainty on this side of the House is met on the other side of the House by confusion, by flip, flop, flap and then fuddle. And before the last election these were the people that walked to the dispatch box

and defended WorkChoices day in, day out. Just a few short months ago

they were at the dispatch box defending WorkChoices. The current Leader of the Opposition talked about how much political capital and philosophical determination had been invested in workplace relations. The member for North Sydney, then the relevant minister, said in the context of the election campaign: "The workplace relations system of the Coalition is providing benefits to workers, businesses and the economy as a whole. It must be retained." They believed in WorkChoices before the election, and the truth is they actually believe in it now.

They are pretending that they have had some road-to-Damascus conversion and they no longer believe in WorkChoices. They are pretending that they no longer believe in the Australian workplace agreements, though one would have to say in the last 48 hours the degree of confusion on that point from the opposition has been absolutely remarkable. But apparently, if the statements of the opposition are now to be believed, they will give passage to Labor's bill through the parliament, and indeed today coalition members at the relevant Senate committee for the bill did not vote at all on a resolution

to put the timetable for the Senate inquiry back to the timetable that Labor had asked for. Originally the Liberal Party in its defence of WorkChoices had sought to draw this matter out to keep WorkChoices going as long as humanly possible. Today the Liberal Party, confronted with a proposition that they come back to Labor's timetable, that they deal with this bill before Easter, did not even vote on it. So we are now in a situation where we believe - it is hard to know -

it changes minute by minute with the flip, flop, flap and fuddle -

that the opposition will vote for and we believe that the opposition will process Labor's bill in the Senate before Easter, as Labor originally asked. In December they said that WorkChoices was dead, in January they said it was back alive again, in February it was dead again-

and still we seem to have a bit of a flutter, based on the statement by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in terms of what may still happen in the Senate. In particular, I draw to the attention of honourable members a statement made today by the good old member for Canning, who, when asked, 'Wouldn't AWAs be gone forever after five years?' responded: "But anything could happen in five years, you know. You could have a different government after five years." Therein lies the point. Whereas they may say that WorkChoices and AWAs are dead and buried or fluttering away there for a bit, the truth is that they lie in the back drawer and lie in the top drawer, ready to be taken out should the opposition assume office at the next election. You can just see it. There it is: WorkChoices is dead one minute, back again, dead the next, then waiting for the next election. You can see them with the defibrillator prongs waiting to bring WorkChoices back to life-zap, zap. On the day after the election, bang-it is back into life. On Monday I reported to the House that the Prime Minister and I had arranged for the pulping of 436,000 WorkChoices booklets. Yesterday, I reported to the House that we were getting rid of 100,000 WorkChoices mousepads. Yesterday in this parliament I was convinced that I was winning the war against WorkChoices propaganda, but it is with a heavy heart I am forced to report to the House: there is more. I am sorry about it, but there is more. There are 102,341 plastic folders-unfortunately, more than 100,000 of them. What are you gonna do with them? It's a good question the Leader of Government Business asks. We are going to have to get rid of them.

There are 77,893 pens. There are 5,684 postcards and- Postcards! Postcards-just in case anybody ever wanted one! There is an unknown number of fridge magnets. I am alert and I am alarmed, I would have to say! You cannot turn a corner in Canberra without WorkChoices propaganda cascading on top of you. It is just remarkable. The coalition seems to think the treasurer is the weak link in the senior ministry. Wayne Swan was peppered with questions on economic theory. The member for Wentworth. My question is addressed to the Treasurer. I refer to the recent 35-year record low in unemployment, of 4.1 per cent, and the record high in labour force participation, of 65.2 per cent. Given the Reserve Bank's stated intention to tighten monetary policy to slow economic activity in order to lower inflationary pressures, what does the Treasurer regard as Australia's current non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment expressed as a percentage? If the Treasurer regards that rate to be higher than 4.1 per cent, how many Australian jobs does he believe should be sacrificed to achieve it? The Leader of the House on a point of order. Order. Order. will resume his seat. The Leader of the House. Thank you, Mr Speaker. With regard to standing order 100, the question clearly asked for an opinion of the Treasurer. It is clearly out of order. I understand they are new to asking questions but they do need to be in order. The member for North Sydney on the point of order. Order. The minister for finance and deregulation.

In the first place, section 100

has been interpreted liberally by previous speakers. Order. Order. The member for North Sydney has the call. The member for North Sydney. The question is specifically about the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment. If the Treasurer does not know the answer, he should not have the job. The question is well and truly in order up until towards the end and I think even the last bit is probably in order as well. The treasurer. Order! The question has been asked.

I would have thought there was a wish to have an answer. I do thank the member for his because it is a good question. As I indicated to the House only last week, we are optimistic about the future of the Australian economy. Unemployment is at a record low. We are in our 17th year of straight economic growth and that is a good thing for Australia,

but what Australia has to do

is deal with the economic challenges that are emerging. As I indicated last week, we have an uncertain international environment and we are not immune from international fallout.

But the biggest challenge the Australian economy faces is dealing with the inflation challenge - the parting gift of the Liberal Party of Australia to the Australian people. We should always aim- The treasurer will resume his seat. The member for Wentworth on a point of order. I rise on a point of order which goes to relevance. The question was about the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment, and the Treasurer has made no reference to it at all. The treasurer. I would like to make it very clear that the objective of the Rudd government is to get unemployment as low as we possibly can. But there is one hurdle, and that is the level of elevated inflation. The highest level of inflation in 16 years was left to the incoming government. The member for Canning. That elevated inflation, which has been on the march for the last couple of years, has produced seven interest rate rises in a row. That is the legacy of the Liberal Party of Australia. That is the parting gift of the Liberal Party of Australia to the incoming government. We have taken responsibility for that from day one. The Prime Minister has put out there his five-point plan. Very important to ensuring that we have sustainable growth in this economy is to put in place our five-point plan to tackle inflation, and we are doing just that. Member for Dickson. The treasurer will resume his seat. The member for North Sydney with a point of order. Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Again, the question was very specific. It was asking the Treasurer about the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment. It should be easy for him to answer it; he is the Treasurer. The member will resume his seat. The treasurer. We all know that those opposite dropped the ball on inflation. If anyone wants any proof of that, watch Four Corners tonight. Watch Four Corners tonight. What we will see on Four Corners tonight is all of the disunity in the former government on display in all of its glory. The member for Menzies on a point of order. Mr Speaker, I ask you two things -

firstly, could you draw the Treasurer back to the question and, secondly, could he answer what NAIRU is. Order! Before the Treasurer returns and answers the question, can I ask that the members for Dickson and Moncrieff just modify their enthusiasm. Take the example of the member for Dunkley and not the member for Sturt. The treasurer. I think Australians, as they are watching Four Corners tonight, when all the disunity is on display,

when the complacency of the former government is on display-

The treasurer will resume his seat. The member for Wentworth. Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order which goes to relevance. I have asked the Treasurer a question about a very important and very well-known economic term- the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment. He has not even mentioned it. Doesn't he know what it is?

Before giving the Treasurer the call, I remind him that promos for ABC programs are out of order. The Treasurer. Mr Speaker, I have answered the question. We aim to get it as low as possible. That is the objective of the Rudd government: to get it as low as possible. Order! Order! But I am sure the Australian people will want to know tonight- Order. the Leader of the Opposition. Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. To assist the Treasurer with relevance, I table the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment. He might consider that. Is the Treasurer aware that, over the last five years, the unemployment rate in Queensland has fallen from 7 to 3.4 per cent and in Western Australia from 6.1 to 3.3 per cent, compared to very much lower declines elsewhere, including in New South Wales and Victoria? Given that the export-driven mining industry in Western Australia and Queensland is not likely to be materially affected by domestic interest rate rises, how will you ensure that your fight against inflation will not have a very uneven impact, with a heavy cost in jobs outside of Queensland and Western Australia? Treasurer. I thank the member for his question because it is true- it is absolutely true- that the participation rate in Queensland and Western Australia has increased substantially. The participation rate has increased and the unemployment rate has gone down- and isn't it a fantastic thing that the participation rate in Queensland and Western Australia has upped substantially and that unemployment is down? And one of the reasons why this has occurred is that people have gone back into the workforce. Absolutely-people in those states have gone back into the workforce, and what that has done is enhance the labour supply in those states, and that is very good for a lot of people. There are members all around here

who will have older women or older men in their electorates who are back in the workforce for the first time in a long time because the participation rate has increased in those states. At the very core of our plan to lift productivity in this economy, to combat inflation, is to lift workforce participation. That is one of the reasons why we are so supportive of the income-tax cuts which we have argued for for a long period of time, because people on modest wages do deserve some incentive. Particularly when it comes to second-income earners, we have to design an income taxation system and a transfer system which gives them incentives when they go back to work. So not only is it older workers- The treasurer will resume his seat. The member for Wentworth on a point of order. Mr Speaker, I asked the Treasurer a very important question about the differential impact of anti-inflation measures across Australia. He has not responded to that at all. He has not addressed it at all. The treasurer has the call.

Yesterday, the shadow Treasurer wanted to engage in some sort of arid debate about NAIRU. And what we have today

is a repeat of the stupidity of yesterday from the shadow Treasurer. This is what the former governor of the Reserve Bank, Mr Macfarlane, had to say about what the shadow Treasurer was saying yesterday- Listen for a second. Let's just listen to what the former governor of the Reserve Bank had to say about the proposition that was put by the shadow Treasurer yesterday. He said:

"I do not think it is a particularly useful construct. I do not think I have ever heard it mentioned in the Reserve Bank boardroom." The NAIRU has never been mentioned in the Reserve Bank boardroom.

And there is a reason for that: it is not used in practical economics. The treasurer will resume his seat. The member for Wentworth on a point of order. Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of relevance. He is now endeavouring to answer the question he could not answer yesterday. He's got to answer the question I asked today. The honourable member will resume his seat. In giving the Treasurer the call I would remind him that he should be responding to today's question. The treasurer. Order. Order. The treasurer will resume this seat.

The Chief Government Whip with a point of order.

Mr Speaker, we at the back here are having great difficulty in hearing the answer from the Treasurer. The chief government whip will resume his seat. Order.

I'm at the front and I'm having difficulty. The House will come to order. The treasurer. The reforms that are required to ensure that we have strong growth across the whole of this country, but most particularly in Western Australia and Queensland, are precisely the reforms that go to the core of the Rudd government's five-point plan. And it has been the complacency of those opposite over a long period of time, when it came to investment in skills, when it came to their failure to deal with infrastructure bottlenecks, that has put upward pressure on inflation and made it harder in all states of Australia, but most particularly in those states, to have strong growth with low inflation. So the answer to the question is a very simple one: put in place a raft of reforms that lift productivity, lift economic growth and put downward pressure on inflation. And that is what our reform of federal-state relations is all about. Can the Treasurer advise the House of the level of state debt? Can the Treasurer also advise the House how state debt impacts on inflation? The treasurer. - We love you, Swanny. - You love WorkChoices. Ignore the interjections. Keep supporting it. It's supposed to be dead. I thank the member for her question. It is the case that there is a substantial amount of state debt out there, a very substantial amount.

Why are those borrowings taking place? I will tell you why those borrowings are taking place. Those borrowings are taking place for essential economic infrastructure- the sort of essential economic infrastructure that those opposite would not concern themselves with for 11 long years. The Rudd government has made it very clear that it is prepared to work with the states when it comes to critical economic infrastructure because this is a key plank in our platform to put downward pressure on inflation and downward pressure on interest rates. Eleven years of neglect in infrastructure have produced a situation where the states are having to borrow because the Commonwealth would not come to the table and provide the political leadership that was required so that we could develop a modern economy which was capable of tackling the future challenges. The treasurer will resume his seat. The member for Cowper with a point of order. Mr Speaker, the point of order is relevance. The question clearly asked, What was the level of state debt? He obviously does not know. I remind the honourable member for Cowper that it did then go on to ask about what the effect of state debt was. The treasurer. I am happy to provide the member with the exact figure. We have had the member for Wentworth and now another member, the member for Riverina, wanting to conduct a pop quiz. That is what they have come to; they are just so desperate. Sometimes I will have the details on hand and sometimes I will not. The treasurer and the minister for finance have said again and again and just a moment ago... My question is addressed to the treasurer, I beg your pardon. have said again and again that spending by the federal government is inflationary and that reducing spending by the federal government will reduce aggregate demand and will reduce inflation, and this is part of their anti-inflation plan. Yet, when asked what the inflationary impact of state government borrowings is - which of course funds spending by state governments - the Treasurer is unable to say. Is it the Treasurer's contention that it is only spending by coalition governments that contributes to inflation? The preamble for that question was a little long but I am happy to allow it.

The treasurer. I thank the shadow Treasurer for his question. My contention is that spending to enhance the productive capacity of the economy is absolutely critical to lifting productivity and to putting downward pressure on inflation and downward pressure on interest rates, which is why we have a minister for infrastructure- someone who will work with the states,

someone who will provide political leadership. That is why, as part of our five-point plan, we are committed to providing national leadership when it comes to essential economic infrastructure. And, for the record, the shadow Treasurer should have a good look at the commentary on this

from the former Governor of the Reserve Bank, Mr Macfarlane, because it simply disproves the ridiculous claims he is making in the House today. The management of our trillion-dollar economy was handed to the new government at the last election.

I must say that watching the new Treasurer struggle every day does not instil in the opposition any confidence in his ability, and I am sure that it does not instil in the Australian public

any confidence in his ability to manage a trillion-dollar economy. The Treasurer is clearly out of his depth, and it is terrifying to think of the consequences should a genuine economic crisis develop. The nation cannot afford to have a Treasurer who panics when confronted with detail

and who is incapable of answering the simplest questions about his new responsibilities. My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister explain to Australians with a home loan how they can have faith in a Treasurer who when asked important questions about the economy dismisses them as a 'pop quiz' and then confesses that 'sometimes I will have the details on hand and sometimes I will not'? If there were any serious engagement of the economic debate in this nation about what we will be doing in the future on inflation, on interest rates and on cutbacks to unnecessary budget outlays, we would start to have an engagement of proper economic policy debate. I will tell you what the Treasurer of the Commonwealth has been doing in the 2.5 months since we have been in office - sitting there in an Expenditure Review Committee of the cabinet

cutting and burning the outrageous engagement - Prime Minister. It strikes me, the question having been asked, that now the question has well and truly been directly answered should not be an invitation for those on my left to raise their voices. They will sit there quietly.

Prime Minister. Why this House has absolute confidence in the Treasurer is because the Treasurer is engaged in day-to-day, week-to-week meetings in the Expenditure Review Committee of this government and cabinet cutting and burning the outrageous examples of waste and misallocation of public funds in which those opposite have engaged. The Deputy Prime Minister today has given you one example after another, one item of waste after another- $122 million worth of this outrageous self-indulgence in public outlays, all contributing to public demand and all therefore adding to the inflation burden in the economy. That is what the Treasurer has been doing. The Treasurer has also been engaged with me in how we advance a productivity agenda for this nation for the future, how we make sure that we engender long-term productivity growth through a human capital revolution, investing in skills and investing in infrastructure. These are the areas where this Treasurer has been engaged. The Treasurer has the absolute confidence of the House, the government and the parliament,

because we are dealing with a record of mismanagement by those opposite, and they stand condemned. I say, we had the unedifying sight last week of the Treasurer of Australia, who has a $1.1 trillion economy in his hands, saying: 'The labour market is tight. It is the tightest it has been in a generation.' He was asked, 'What does that mean?' He said: 'It means it's very tight. It means it's low. That is what it means: very low.' Yes, if you were watching a Monty Python film, it would be funny. But we were watching the Treasurer of Australia, with our $1 trillion economy and our mortgages in his hands, get up and say, 'It's tight; it's very tight.' Then, yesterday, we had the Treasurer of this nation, in response to a question, get up and say, 'Sometimes I will have the details on hand and sometimes I will not. ' It depends on what day it is! Australians have to pay their mortgages every day and they have to have the detail right. They rely on the Treasurer of the country to make damn sure that he has the detail right. No Australian should lose his or her home

because of incompetent management by the government of the day. This business about suggesting we had inflation out of control, as alleged and asserted by the Treasurer and the Prime Minister, is an absolute nonsense being perpetrated on innocent Australians. It is also important for Australians to remember: okay, the Treasurer did not know what NAIRU is, but when Mark Skaife goes out there at the Clipsal 500 this week, I reckon he is going to know what the gauge in front of him means, he is going to know what it means for the performance of his car. Australia cannot afford to have a part-time Prime Minister who decides not to turn up with his ministers when the parliament is sitting and answer questions. That is bad enough. But, now, we have a Treasurer who may or may not have the detail,

who does not know basic economic theory, let alone practice, and a Treasurer who cannot possibly give confidence to the Australian people. The opposition leader Brendan Nelson appears to have embraced a new consensus, vigorously endorsing the Prime Minister on a series of issues. Mr Speaker, on indulgence, I join the Prime Minister in strongly endorsing his remarks about World Youth Day and the visit of the cross and icon here to Australia. This is an extraordinarily important event for all Australians, whether Catholics or Christians, because it is a celebration of faith and of the fragile,

yet powerful, belief in hope. Could I firstly, on indulgence, strongly endorse the remarks of the Prime Minister in relation to Pakistan and the democratic elections. It is not overstating it to say that the outcome of not only the democratic process in Pakistan

but security arrangements within that country will determine e the outcome in Afghanistan and therefore the struggle against terrorism globally. I strongly support the remarks made by the Prime Minister in that regard. Mr Speaker, on indulgence, I rise to support strongly the remarks of the Prime Minister

in relation to the floods in Mackay. For people there to have 600mm of rain in a six-hour period is nothing short of extraordinary, as well as winds of 90 kilometres an hour. The government's plan for parliament to sit on Fridays but without question times, quorums or divisions, didn't go down well with the opposition. The Leader of the House is unfortunately drunk with power, acting like an Ottoman potentate when it comes to the standing order changes being proposed for Fridays, Mondays and Tuesdays. Unfortunately, the government's changes show that it is acting with reckless indifference to the doubts that still exist over the suspension of quorum on a Friday. It is indicative of a government already out of touch after less than three months in office. This is a very important debate. Members of the House should be aware that for them it has a direct bearing on how they operate as members of parliament in this place. They are putting all their trust in the member for Grayndler to have gotten this right. They have not seen the legal advice. We have not seen the legal advice either.

The Speaker, who is responsible for the parliament, has not seen the legal advice. It is a disgraceful display on behalf of the government.

If members of parliament on both sides of the House - and Labor should be particularly interested in this -

were aware of the danger to them on a Friday sitting, or even on a Monday or a Tuesday between 6.30 and 8 pm, in speaking in this parliament without parliamentary privilege, they might well have a different view about the standing orders being implemented by the government. Section 39 of the Constitution says: "Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the presence of at least one-third of the whole number of the members of the House of Representatives shall be necessary to constitute a meeting of the House for the exercise of its powers." Section 39 conceives of a quorum having to be present or there being quorum requirements. Certainly it says, there should be one-third but the parliament can change that number, and the parliament has acted to do so. But the Constitution does not conceive at all of a suspension of quorum requirements in their entirety. The danger is that, if the parliament sits in breach of section 39 of the Constitution, if one of the members of the House comes into this place and talks about a constituent, a business or an opponent of some kind or whatever and says something that would be actionable outside the parliament, it might not be protected by parliamentary privilege. This goes very much to the core of how members of parliament operate. The Labor Party has a grand history of part-time prime ministers. We know it; the Australian people know it. Paul Keating set up a roster system for question time. He did not want any proper accountability. He was the Prime Minister: he did not want to have to answer questions in question time. And now we have a new Prime Minister, Prime Minister Rudd, playing cricket in the prime ministerial courtyard whilst Australians are struggling to pay grocery prices, interest rates, higher petrol prices. What is the Prime Minister doing? He is fiddling in the courtyard! His bowling action is a disgrace, let alone the fact that he is not

subjecting himself to the questions of this parliament. How ironic it is: not two weeks of this parliament have passed and the Prime Minister has got time to go and play cricket in his courtyard, but he has not got time to come into this place and answer questions from members of parliament

about how the country is being run. Let us have a look at what is actually happening here. We used to sit four days a week; now we will sit for five days a week. We used to have question time four times a week; now we will have question time four times a week. We used to have three matter of public importance debates; now we will have three matter of public importance debates. Question time over the life of the Howard government averaged around about 18 or 19 questions every question time. Under the new government, we are averaging more than 20 questions. In the past 10 years, under the government of this now discredited opposition, we only had more than 20 questions once in 10 years. Under the Rudd government, that has happened twice in two weeks. Why is that the case? - You can't count! Because we are not frightened of getting questions. Indeed, one of the clowns opposite says that we cannot count. Well, we had to have two questions in a row because they did not have a question ready. Malcolm sat there on the chair and refused to stand up. Chaos reigned on Friday with rowdy debate about the new rules. It took a walkout from the Speaker to restore order. The member for Moncrieff. I seek leave to move for a suspension of standing orders.

Is leave granted? Leave is not granted. Under standing order 47, I move: That so much of standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent me from moving the following motion: At 12 pm each and every Friday that this House sits, the Speaker shall interrupt the business before the House and call on questions without notice for a period of one hour and thirty minutes. This is an important suspension... I move....will no longer be heard... Order. The member for Moncrieff will resume his seat. The question is that the member be no longer heard. All those of that opinion say 'aye'. On the contrary 'no'. I think the 'ayes' have it. Division required. The division is deferred until the commencement of the next sitting. The member for North Sydney. Mr Speaker, I move to dissent your ruling. Under the provisions of standing order 133(b) it is clear that you have the capacity to order a division of this House. This place is turning into a farce because specifically the government has failed to make the Prime Minister and ministers accountable to this House and accountable to the Australian people for their actions.

This is not the way we want to behave in the parliament, but if you are going to close down the parliament, if the Labor Party is going to try to close down accountability,

if it is going to close down transparency, then we make no apology at all for calling for question time to come on.

It is very important that the member for Moncrieff have a voice in this House for his constituents.

The member for North Sydney will resume his seat. The leader of the house. I move that the speaker be no longer heard. Order. The question is that the member be no longer heard. All of those opinion say 'aye'. The contrary 'no'. I think the 'ayes' have it.

Second is the motion... Division required. In accordance with standing order 133, division is deferred until the commencement of the next sitting. The leader of the Nationals. Because there has been no completed division, the issue is not resolved and therefore the member has a right to continue speaking. The issue is simply not resolved. You cannot move on to the next item until this matter is resolved. The member has a right to exercise his entire speaking time because the House has not voted that his time has completed.

The leader of the National Party will resume his seat. This is what the motion before the chair is about. That is the reason the dissent motion is being attempted to be moved. I have told the Leader of the National Party that if he wants to remain around to witness proceedings he should not be interjecting. Is the motion seconded? The deputy Leader of the Opposition. This is an embarrassing farce on the part of the government- The deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume her seat. The leader of the house.

I move the member be no longer heard. Order. The question is that the member be no longer heard. The 'ayes' will pass to the right of the chair. The 'noes' to the left. Oh, sorry...

Members will resume their seats as is required by the standing orders. The clerk. Private members business notice number one. Organ donation. The member for Moncrieff on a point of order.

Mr Speaker, I have a right as a member of this parliament to continue moving the motion. I've moved the motion...

The member for Moncrieff will resume his seat. SHOUTING CONTINUES

will resume his seat. will leave the chamber under standing order 94 (a) for one hour.

The member for Moncrieff will leave the chamber

under standing order 94 (a) for one hour because of the gross disorderly conduct of the member

I ask the sergeant to remove the member. Can you advise me, Mr Speaker, under what standing order the clerk, the sergeant at arms removed the member for Moncrieff? The authority of the speaker and of precedent. Go back and read Practice. The member for North Sydney will resume his seat.

The member for Fremantle. The member for Fremantle has the call. I move the motion relating to organ donation in the terms in which it appears in the notice paper. On this first historic opportunity on a Friday

for members to bring forward and discuss matters of significance within their electorates, and within the Australian community- The member for Fremantle will resume her seat. The member for Booth with a point of order. Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I draw your attention to page 524 of House of Representatives Practice, on which it says: "If the Speaker determines that there is an urgent need

to protect the dignity of the House, he or she can order a grossly disorderly Member to leave the Chamber immediately. When the Member has left, the Speaker must immediately name the Member and put the question for suspension without a motion being necessary. Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to House of Representatives Practice. The member for Fremantle. I would like to begin by noting that this is Organ Donor Awareness Week and by acknowledging the many Australians who have made the generous and selfless act of registering as an organ donor. They are making a personal contribution to the collective good health of their fellow Australians. Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I draw your attention to page 524

of the House of Representatives Practice where it says- will resume his seat.

The member for Boothby will resume his seat! I name the honourable member for Moncrieff.

The leader of the house. I move that the member be suspended from the house. The question is that the member be suspended from the services of the house. All those of that opinion say 'aye'. The contrary - 'no'. I think the 'ayes' have it. Division required? In accordance with standing order 133, division is deferred until the commencement of the next sitting.

Mr Speaker, on a point of order. Order, order, order. The member for Boothby does not have the call yet. You might now repeat it again. The member for Boothby.

House of Representatives Practice page 524. If the question is not resolved, the member may return to the chamber. And I ask you to use your discretion to put the motion. In accordance with standing order 133 I have deferred the division. The member for Pearce.

The chair will be resumed in 15 minutes. The Prime Minister isn't here. We want the Prime Minister here. Order! Order! I want Kevin Rudd here.

will resume his seat. The member for Cowper will remove himself from the house under standing order 94 (a) for ignoring my call.

The member was named. You asked for a vote. The vote on the voices was challenged. A division was called for. No division was held. Therefore, no decision of this chamber has been made. And the member has a right to be heard. The member for North Sydney will resume his seat.

will remove himself from the chamber. The member for Cowper's refusal to leave the chamber places the chair in an untenable position. The sitting is suspended until the ringing of the bells.