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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 6000


Mr ROBB (Goldstein) (19:23): I was reminded of something when the minister talked about participation in training. I would be grateful if you could give us the reasons why the trade training centres, which were heralded so magnificently for four years, were scrapped—2,650 trade training centres, some of which you had begun to put in place but then were unceremoniously scrapped. You wrung an endless amount of publicity from that. Do you want this in short syllables so that you can write it down? Most of my questions last time were not answered, Minister. Have you got someone writing a note for you?

Mr Shorten: If I was asking a question I would ask another question altogether; syllables don't help your question.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms S Bird ): The member for Goldstein has the call and will continue.

Mr ROBB: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. But he does not answer the question, so it is a bit of a futile use of the time anyway. But, Minister, if you could firstly explain why the trade training centre scheme was scrapped, it would be very helpful to know why you have done that, because you have now substituted that spending for other things which are now making a song and dance. You have scrapped the scheme. You scrapped the trade training centres. Some were built, but they have overwhelmingly been scrapped.

Secondly, Minister, could I go back to the debt and just ask you—again I will speak slowly—who took the decision to contain the debt-raising proposal in a secondary appropriation bill and why it was done in this way when in the past it has been stand-alone legislation.

Thirdly, I did send a letter to Minister Albanese asking if we could have the debt-raising element of the bill separated. I have not had a response from him. Minister, you got a copy of the letter and you are the relevant minister in any event. I seek leave to table the letter that I sent to the minister.

Leave not granted.

Mr ROBB: You have not seen it but you do not want to see it. This is a joke. This is a total joke. Anyway, you might rely on me—probably not.

Mr Mitchell: I would not rely on you.

Mr ROBB: I am talking to the minister. You get back in your box. You will get your screed that you can read in a minute. Someone gave it to you. You will get your chance, so keep the trap shut.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I draw the House to order. While this chamber is more robust, people will deal with each other in an appropriate manner. The member for Goldstein has the call.

Mr ROBB: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I sent a note to Minister Albanese—copied to the minister, though unfortunately his staff have not drawn it to his attention—where I formally requested that the terms of the cognate debate be altered to accommodate a substantive debate on Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2011-2012. I would ask the minister, as he is the minister responsible, if I could get a response now on whether or not the government is prepared to alter the terms of the cognate debate. There is still an opportunity to accommodate a substantive debate.

Finally in that area, I would be grateful to know why the special circumstances clause has been removed. This clause was a major factor when the government asked the parliament to increase the debt ceiling from $75 billion to $200 billion. Now that the ceiling is rising to $250 billion the government no longer sees a requirement to provide any reasons why the debt should go above $200 billion without any explanation about special circumstances. Could you explain the special circumstances and also why that clause has been removed.

Finally, in the 2009 budget the government included an estimate of the revenue from the emissions trading scheme, and the associated costs, and it was included in the budget. I would put to you, Minister, that this time round the government is, in fact, at a more advanced stage and has the benefit of all the modelling that has taken place but has decided not to include the estimate. Could you please explain why you did include it in 2009 but not in this year's budget. (Time expired)