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Thursday, 26 November 2009
Page: 12978


Mr ALBANESE (Leader of the House) (9:58 AM) —I move:

That standing order 31 (automatic adjournment of the House) and standing order 33 (limit on business) be suspended for this sitting.

As members would be aware, it is vital that the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation be carried by the House of Representatives and the Senate before we leave for the end of the parliamentary sitting year. This is absolutely vital, and the government’s view is that our preferred option be that the parliament would continue to sit until such time as that occurs.

Discussions have taken place this morning between government members and members of the opposition for both the House of Representatives and the Senate. They were constructive discussions aimed at providing some certainty to members and senators about the timing of the passage of this legislation. Members of the House of Representatives will be fully aware that this legislation has been carried in our chamber. All members would also be aware that the opposition has chosen to support the amended legislation after constructive dialogue led by Senator Wong and Mr Macfarlane on behalf of the Liberal Party. I congratulate both of them for the constructive outcome that has occurred.

We now need the Senate to pass the legislation that is the subject of the agreement between the government and the opposition. The House of Representatives at this stage will, hopefully, be in a position to make an announcement about timing at around question time. It is possible that we may adjourn or suspend today’s sitting so as to enable the House to come back when we have received messages and the amended legislation from the Senate. I do not think there is an interest of members of the House of Representatives in continuing to sit without that legislation coming back from the Senate.

So we are looking for a response from the Senate. As I said, there was a constructive meeting earlier on this morning. We are aware of some of the difficulties that exist due to the positions held by some of the Senate. Nonetheless, it is clear that this legislation will be carried. Therefore, I think it is in the interests of the parliament that, whilst everyone needs to be able to have their say, there not be unnecessary delay in the passage of this legislation.

So, in the interests of all members, the government’s intention, in consultation with the Manager of Opposition Business, is that we determine a time when we would come back when we would be in a position to receive that legislation. As I said, the government’s preferred position would be that we stay here and we continue to sit through, but if that is not going to happen in a timely fashion then it may well be that we suspend the sitting and come back at a different time.

I wish I were in a position to provide more certain options, but the Senate is not quite as easy to predict in terms of its timing and operations as the House of Representatives is. It is in the interests of all members and staff—not just staff of parliamentarians but staff of the parliament—that there be that certainty provided. I thank the Manager of Opposition Business, who has been constructive in his dialogue with me. We will, hopefully, be in a position to provide more certainty at a later hour this day.

Question agreed to.