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Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Page: 922


Mr ALBANESE (Leader of the House) (3:50 PM) —This is a distraction in order to delay the matter of public importance that has been selected by you, Mr Speaker, to be debated before this House—that is, the matter of public importance moved by the member for Chifley in the following terms:

The urgent need for leadership to re-affirm our commitment to a non-discriminatory immigration policy for Australia’s future.

This is desperation from the Leader of the Opposition. It is very interesting that he could not actually pick any of his factional mates to do this; he had to pick the shadow Treasurer and the member for Dunkley to do this—two people who have, I think, a very proud record on issues relating to migration and who are prepared to stand up within their party against the extremists who would press buttons in order to seek political advantage. Today, on the doors, the member for Gippsland said:

You’d have to suggest that what the polls are saying to us is we have to get our act together. That is a clear message to us in the coalition. We’ve had a bad couple of weeks. There’s no point gilding the lily on that point.

Indeed, they have had a shocker of a couple of weeks! The backbencher, the member for Gippsland, went on to say:

There’s a message there to the traitors in the ranks. There’s people in our ranks who think they can climb over the corpses of their colleagues to get themselves further ahead in their political careers …

They had a crisis in the party room this morning. They had a crisis over the member for Cook’s private member’s motion that came before the parliament last night. He moved a motion to cap the number of visas given to asylum seekers who arrive by boat. He was taken on in the party room this morning by Judi Moylan, who broke ranks to challenge the member for Cook’s motion and called for an end to the historical rhetoric over the issue of refugees.


Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, on a point of order: the motion to suspend standing orders is very clear and specific. There are five points to it. None of them would allow the Leader of the House to traverse the subjects that he is now traversing. I would ask you to bring him back to the suspension—


The SPEAKER —The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. The mover and seconder went beyond the suspension of standing orders and I allowed that. The Leader of the House knows he must relate his comments to the suspension, and I thought that that was what he was doing.


Mr ALBANESE —Absolutely, Mr Speaker. The Manager of Opposition Business was instructed by the Leader of the Opposition to move that point of order because he will do anything to distract from this debate. The reason why we should not suspend standing orders is that we should hear from the member for Chifley, because he knows firsthand what the grubs opposite are prepared to do when it comes to migration.


The SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the House will withdraw.


Mr Hockey —Mr Speaker—


Mr ALBANESE —I withdraw. Sit down.


The SPEAKER —The member for North Sydney will resume his seat. The minister withdrew.


Mr ALBANESE —They will do anything to stop debate, because the member for Chifley, when he was the candidate for Greenway, saw firsthand what the Liberal Party was prepared to do. We have seen a lot. For those in the cheap seats, here is a recap of the last couple of weeks. We saw the Leader of the Opposition kick things off by emailing people to ask them to donate to the Liberal Party instead of helping to rebuild Queensland. As he was sending out that email, he found another one from One Nation, and that is when he decided he should cut the Indonesian schools program as was recommended by One Nation.


Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I am well aware of the tolerance given to debates on matters of public importance and other kinds of motions, but he is not speaking to any of the points in this suspension at all. What he is doing is slagging off the opposition—


The SPEAKER —The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. The Leader of the House is well aware of the requirement to relate his comments to why or why not the standing and sessional orders should be suspended.


Mr ALBANESE —I certainly am, and that is why we should get on with the motion moved by the member for Chifley. That is why you have moved this suspension: to avoid this debate. We know that the member for Cook has embarrassed many people of decency in the coalition. We know also, as a result of the comments by the member for Cook when he said on 15 February, ‘If relatives of those who were involved wanted to go to Christmas Island, like any other Australian who wanted to attend a funeral service in another part of the country, they would have made their own arrangements to be there,’ the Leader of the Opposition backed it up—


Mrs Bronwyn Bishop —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. You have twice upheld the point of order of the Manager of Opposition Business. Again the minister at the dispatch box is flouting your ruling. I would ask you to ask him to return to the question of the suspension.


The SPEAKER —The Leader of the House is going to the reasons why or why not the standing and sessional orders should be suspended.


Mr ALBANESE —The Leader of the Opposition, in response to the member for Cook’s comments, said this:

That’s a fair point and I guess I am curious as to why that couldn’t have happened and I’m also curious as to why rellies are being flown around the country.


Mr Abbott —Mr Speaker, on a point of order: the fact that the standing orders regarding suspensions were changed in a previous parliament does not mean that the Leader of the House can speak on any subject he wants. It does not allow him to say whatever he wants. We will shortly go to the MPI. Are you ruling, Mr Speaker, that he can speak on any subject he wishes?


The SPEAKER —I have indicated to the Leader of the House that he must relate his comments to why or why not sessional and standing orders should be suspended. I am listening carefully to him. This is a tactic that has been used in the past.


Mr ALBANESE —The fact is: the reason we should not suspend standing orders is that we should get on with the MPI debate. They will do anything to avoid this debate, because we know that the Leader of the Opposition’s own parliamentary secretary went out there last week on radio—