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Monday, 23 November 2009
Page: 8581


Senator PARRY (5:04 PM) —I did not propose to rise to speak on this motion until I heard some of the horrendous comments from the Manager of Government Business in the Senate. Let me correct the record as briefly as I can. Firstly, Senator Cormann did not take up his full five minutes, though I note that Senator Ludwig did. Secondly, this is not a matter of delaying; this is a matter of getting through some legislation that we flagged with you. I place on record for the chamber that I went to the Manager of Government Business in the Senate and indicated that we would like to do this in a far more conducive manner, and he refused, which is his right. He wanted to test it on the floor of the chamber and he wanted to have the suspension debate as well, which he is doing. I have no problem with him doing that. The problem is that he is blaming us for the delay. It is you delaying it—through you, Mr Acting Deputy President Bernardi—not us.

It is not just the opposition raising this. If it were, we could not effect it. It is the opposition with the support of two other senators. On that side you have to get used to the reality that the dynamics of this chamber are different. The government does not have a majority. Nor does the opposition but, when a majority of senators agree on a course of action, that means it is the will of the Senate. Just accept the will of the Senate when it happens. Once you get over that, I think you will find the place runs a lot more smoothly.

We are not delaying the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme debate. We will not be ready to go into the committee stage tomorrow because we will still be considering the legislation in the party room, so we would have had a gap in the legislative agenda. It is an absolute furphy that this is a delaying tactic. It is not, because we would have ended up with a vacuum.

Another reason we are dealing with it now—which I offered you; you wanted to do it on Wednesday—is that the House of Representatives have to have the chance to consider it before they rise. So we are going to deal with it now and get it across to the House of Representatives, then it can come back again. We are considering all the aspects of this. We are actually assisting you with a process. You wanted to have a debate on suspension; you now have the debate. We were going to deal with it quickly. We had an agreement for brief contributions by the senators wishing to speak so it would be a brief debate to facilitate us getting the bill out of here and getting back onto the legislative program.

Contrary to the suggestion that this has got nothing to do with health insurance, the amending bill that Senator Cormann is seeking to deal with is the Health Insurance Amendment (Compliance) Bill 2009. It has got everything to do with what Senator Cormann is suggesting and proposing. I think a bit of honesty and a bit of factual debate would assist. I will sit down now. I will not take my full five minutes so as to allow us to get on with the job, but do not blame us. You are the one, Senator Ludwig, who brought on the suspension because you would not give us time.