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Thursday, 20 June 2013
Page: 6530


Mr WILKIE (Denison) (15:18): I seek leave to move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent private Members' business, order of the day No. 4 (Marine Engineers Qualifications Bill 2013) on the Notice Paper, for the Federation Chamber being returned to the House, and debated and proceeded with forthwith.

Leave not granted.

Mr WILKIE: I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent private Members' business, order of the day No. 4 (Marine Engineers Qualifications Bill 2013) on the Notice Paper, for the Federation Chamber being returned to the House, and debated and proceeded with forthwith.

Speaker, if I could just take up a moment of your time, I seek to suspend standing and sessional orders because I think it is absolutely vital that this bill be dealt with before this parliament rises and because, without this suspension, the bill will lapse. The essence of this bill is to preserve the high standards currently in place among maritime engineers in Australia. There is an urgent need to preserve those standards, because there is every possibility that the current pressure to drive the standards down will succeed and, in particular, that the push to drive down the standards will result in the minimum training period being reduced from three years to just one year. We are a maritime country, and it is simply not an option to reduce maritime standards, which would diminish our good name and, more importantly, put our crews, our passengers and our vessels at risk. That is why this suspension must be supported.

I would add that it is my understanding that the Selection Committee had in fact decided that this matter should be dealt with today and the government has somehow moved the business to the Federation Chamber. I think we should respect the wishes of the Selection Committee. I think—

The SPEAKER: Can I just caution the member for Denison. Discussing what goes on in the Selection Committee without having seen reports is, as I have mentioned to others, a breach of privilege, and it is not actually up to the Selection Committee where or how things go. I am just giving you the same advice I gave to the member for Cook earlier this week.

Mr WILKIE: Thank you, Speaker. I may need to apologise, but my understanding was that the Selection Committee had in fact selected the bill to be dealt with today.

The SPEAKER: We will not go into discussion.

Mr WILKIE: Thank you, Speaker. In any case, there is only a week left in this parliament, and I would hope that every member of this parliament would be mindful of the need to maintain the very high standards of our maritime crews. Surely we do not want to put them at risk, we do not want to put the passengers on their vessels at risk, we do not want put the vessels themselves at risk and we do not want to put our nation's very good name in this regard at risk. That is why I think that standing and sessional orders should be suspended, we should bring this down from the Federation Chamber right away and we should debate it and deal with it today.

The SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded?