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Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Page: 9927

Mr PYNE (SturtManager of Opposition Business) (17:40): The opposition does not support the latest ruse of the Leader of the House. We do not support an amendment to the amendment because, transparently, adding one member of the opposition and one member of the government does not change the proportions. I know that the government is in hock with the Greens. I know they are in league with the Greens. I know the member for Marrickville is extremely sensitive about upsetting the Greens—

Mr Combet: Grayndler.

Mr PYNE: The member for Grayndler—which covers Marrickville—is particularly concerned about upsetting the Greens. We know that and we know that he will do anything in his power to ensure that the Greens maintain their overrepresentation on this committee.

Mr Oakeshott: One!

Mr PYNE: Two out of three crossbench members. The poor old member for Lyne is a bit slow. The reality is that the proposal being put by the government for this joint select committee establishes five members of the government, four members of the opposition and three members of the crossbenches. Of those three members of the crossbenches two are Greens—one in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives—and one is a non-aligned member. The last time I looked at the proportions in this place and in the Senate there were 10 Greens and seven non-aligned members. That does not equate to having two-thirds of the representatives on this joint select committee.

Transparently, the Leader of the House's amendment to my amendment is a pea and thimble trick. It is a three-card trick. It is designed to fool the crossbenchers into believing that somehow he is changing the proportions on this committee. I have nothing against the member for Melbourne. I do not share all of his political views but as a person I think he is a very fine representative. Of course, I would rather his seat had been won by a Liberal but I am sure he will make a contribution. But whether the member for Melbourne needs to be on this joint select committee—as well as a Greens senator—is, quite frankly in the opposition's view, over-egging the omelette. There is nothing at all wrong with having a joint select committee, if it is to occur, that includes five members of the government, five members of the opposition and two other members that are one Greens senator and one non-aligned member. That proportion more accurately reflects the breakdown of the parliament, including both the Senate and the House of Representatives. In fact, it is understating the representation of the coalition in this present parliament, because we actually have more seats and more senators than the government.

The Leader of the House's amendment to my amendment is designed to fool and trick the parliament and the crossbenchers and we will not support it. This change to our economy is a $27 billion tax raised over the forward estimates. It proposes expenditure of $31 billion and, in addition, a clean energy fund of $10 billion. Why on earth would the government quibble about the length of time that the committee should report? Why would it apply the gag motion to these pieces of legislation and why on earth would it now seek—in the petulant, schoolboy way that we are seeing from the Leader of the House—these Tammany-Hall tactics to amend the opposition's amendment that more accurately reflects the proportions of this parliament?

Of course we will be opposing the government's amendment to my amendment. We would still call on the House to support the amendment that I originally put, which would remove one member from the crossbenches while still maintaining a Greens senator and a non-aligned member and ensure that the opposition has five members and the government has five members. If the government were serious about getting the opposition on board on this policy, if it were serious about trying to convince the parliament and the opposition that it actually had a good case for a carbon tax, it would have no problem with having an inquiry with 12 members—five from the government, five from the opposition and two from the crossbenches.

The reality is that the government does not have the courage of its convictions. It does not have a mandate for a carbon tax. It went to an election on the basis of a policy where there would be no carbon tax—when the Treasurer and the Prime Minister both made that promise—and yet today we are debating a joint select committee being established to inquire into a carbon tax package of bills. Nothing could be a more fundamental breach of faith with the Australian people. We saw in question time today the anger that exists in the community—

Mr Albanese: In the Liberal Party!

Mr PYNE: I agree with the member for Grayndler on one thing: he should get out there and do more arguing the case against these people outside his electorate office. He should argue that case as much as possible, because it is doing the government no end of harm. As I am getting a reasonable score from the member for Windsor, I might take that as a hint he might support my amendment and cut out while I am in front.