Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Friday, 25 November 2011
Page: 9629

Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Attorney-General on Queensland Floods Recovery) (09:57): I move:

That the Senate not meet from Monday, 28 November to Wednesday, 30 November 2011.

I indicate at the outset that I do not intend to speak for very long. We do have bills before the parliament and the opposition, the cross-benchers and the government should be given an opportunity to debate them. I foreshadowed this motion when I spoke on Monday on the motion that established the program of legislation in the Senate for the following week. This week included extended hours. It is not unusual at the end of a sitting period that we have, firstly, extended hours to provide an opportunity to debate bills, and, secondly, an additional day on Friday to allow debate. Of course, today is Friday. I remind people of that, because it is not a usual day of sitting. The motion does remove the final three sitting days previously scheduled for the Senate, as with the House, where they were scheduled as well. Mr Albanese indicated at the time that those three days in the House were only 'if required'—and the House, as we know, has adjourned to allow members to return to their electorates to do their electorate work.

Senator Abetz interjecting

Senator LUDWIG: There are no surprises with this motion; it has been on the Notice Paper. I do expect the opposition do take the opportunity to express confected outrage in relation to this matter; however, I do think that they will also want to return to their constituencies to do their work, given that we have had a long sitting period over the last three months. I take this opportunity to congratulate the opposition for being part of a parliament that, as of this morning, has passed 226 bills in 175 packages of government legislation. I expect that number to be added to before the Senate adjourns for the year. Since September last year, under the Gillard government, this has been a productive parliament, and I anticipate the productivity of the 43rd Parliament will continue next year. The Senate has made a steady progress through legislation this week.

I realise that many senators of the opposition have rallied and railed against the constraints that have been imposed this week under the procedural motion, but it is not unusual. When those in opposition were in government, they used the same devices; they used the same procedural motions. My recollection is that I rallied a little less than those opposite at this juncture but history will show whether I did or did not. In this way it does allow the constructive work of the Senate to be dealt with this week.

The opposition have had the opportunity to use the time available to them to debate the substantive bills. In many instances, they chose to debate procedural matters, not substantive bills. That was their choice, not mine. They were well aware of the extended hours for the week, which gave them the opportunity to debate the substantive bills and to manage their time accordingly. However, in many instances, they chose to debate procedural motions, as we have seen this morning as well. That, of course, then detracts from their ability to speak on the bills. So, with that, I think in many instances the complaints about not being able to debate bills are in fact crocodile tears from the opposition.

However, I do not want to take any of the time available to the opposition to organise their time today to debate the substantive bills. With the House now adjourned for the 2011 parliament, it is time for the Senate to also conclude its business. This will allow senators to go back to their constituents, finalise the year's work and also finalise the remaining work of the Senate committees. I recommend the motion to the chamber in the knowledge that—

Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting

Senator Bob Brown: Mr Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. Again Senator Macdonald has referred to the minister as a 'fraud'. I think he should withdraw that remark.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I did not hear the remark.

Senator Ian Macdonald: I withdraw.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Macdonald.

Senator LUDWIG: I recommend the motion to the chamber in the knowledge that, despite how senators might vote, I think they will be pleased with the outcome, which does allow them to return to their Senate work in their home states.