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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 65


Mr BURKE (WatsonManager of Opposition Business) (15:44): I move as an amendment:

That the words "the next sitting" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

"17 September 2018, where it shall be the first item of private Members' business, and if the second reading debate has concluded on 17 September 2018, the bill be called on immediately for its third reading as the first item of private Members' business on 15 October 2018, and on each day it shall be permitted for the debate to conclude and the question to be put".

To explain the detail of this to the House, we have a private member's bill that has come from the Senate that is in very similar terms to a private member's bill which is currently on the Notice Paper in the name of the member for Farrer. This House has not had the opportunity to debate any bill relating to the future of live exports. This motion is to make sure that the bill that has already passed the Senate has the opportunity to be fully debated in this House. If this amendment is not carried, the impact will simply be that, given that the call went to the Leader of the House and not the member for Melbourne, the practical outcome of that is that instead of this being listed in private members' business, it disappears into the ether. The government has been so determined to make sure that we don't have a debate about the future of live sheep exports that not only are they wanting to pretend that a bill from the Senate, moved from the crossbench there, is in fact now government business; they've also announced that the member for Farrer's private member's bill is intended to be taken off the Notice Paper. The action that they proclaimed as urgent, and introduced their own legislation to respond to some of the effective scandals about the live sheep trade that emerged over recent months—they now won't even bring on their own bill containing their own policy, because (1) it would lead to a debate and (2) it might lead to amendment.

I simply implore both the members of the crossbench and those opposite, because there are many people in this chamber—it's not hard to get to a majority of people in this chamber—who hold the view that we should at the very least debate this issue and, beyond that, people who have a view that the sheep trade ought to either be phased out or, in some people's view, stopped immediately. The only chance we will have this term to ever have that debate and make that decision is by voting for this amendment today. It doesn't determine the outcome of the debate, but it does determine whether or not the parliament will get to debate it. The private member's bill in the name of the member for Farrer is on the Notice Paper today. It won't be on the Notice Paper tomorrow. This bill is before us now. If the motion moved by the Leader of the House is not amended, then this bill will never be in front of us again.

In relation to the legislation that the government has brought forward, so concerned are they about there being a majority in this House that wants to do something about the trade that they have even abandoned their own legislation that they had introduced. While it's technically on the Notice Paper, it never gets listed for debate. We were told how urgent it was; we were told how important it was; and it never turns up anymore from the moment the member for Hunter gave due, responsible notice that when we got past the second reading debate we would seek to amend it in the same terms as the member for Farrer's private member's bill.

There was some good cross-party work not long ago from people on all sides who were genuinely passionate about this issue. There is no point putting out media releases, holding media conferences, saying you care so much about this issue and then going missing the one time there is a vote that matters. What's about to happen in this House today will be the one time this term that will determine whether or not this parliament has an opportunity to act on phasing out the live sheep trade.

Originally it was expected that this debate would start in the House. You would all remember when the member for Farrer announced her private member's bill, together with the member for Corangamite, and the big question was, 'Well, you know, it will start in the reps and then go to the Senate.' Well, the Senate has now had the whole debate. The Senate has dealt with it, the Senate has carried it, and it is now here anyway. Those who are supporting the private member's bill, when they held their media conference, said that they would not support a suspension of standing orders to bring it on. Today they don't have to. This is not a suspension of standing orders. This is an amendment that simply says: 'We're not going to let this bill disappear. We will debate it and it will come to a conclusion.'

How it lands when it comes to a conclusion, I don't know, but be in no doubt that, if this comes to a vote, anyone who chooses to vote against this amendment will have made an active decision that we will not be dealing with the live sheep trade in this term of parliament. That is the necessary consequence of anyone voting against this, because the private member's bill that is in front of the parliament is about to disappear, and the government's own legislation is never coming back. For people who set a threshold that they wouldn't play political games, that they wouldn't support a suspension—and that was their argument—here is the simple procedure. The simple procedure is that, on 17 September, it will be the first item of private members' business. If debate is concluded that day, it will be called on immediately for its third reading as the first item of private members' business on 15 October. Then it will be called on as the first item each day and will be allowed to be debated until the debate concludes. Then, unusually—because you normally don't get to do this in private members' business—the question will be put. We will get a vote.

This is an unusual opportunity and it has happened in a way that navigates past every objection that has been put by people who felt they were bravely crossing party lines to deal with this. They've received a whole lot of community support. The time for that bravery to turn into action is now; the clock runs out today. This is the last moment. This amendment deals with every one of the objections those individuals raised.

I respect what those people would now be weighing up, given that at least one of them is now back as a member of the executive. There may well be from the government a penalty for keeping to your convictions. But, if you've gone out there publicly, said you are willing to do that, said that that's what has to happen, used some extraordinarily compassionate language about how important all of that is, and then when the opportunity is presented in the exact terms that those individuals demanded—I certainly hope they vote for the amendment. If they vote for the amendment there will be an opportunity to act on the live sheep trade this year. If this amendment fails, almost certainly there will not be that opportunity. I commend the amendment to the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Andrews ): Is the amendment seconded?