Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Hansard"
Dec 5, 2018

Constitutional Recognition Relating to ATSIP Committees Report – Uluru Statement from the Heart – Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (11:43):  It is appropriate that I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which this parliament meets and pay my respect to elders past and present. I am very pleased to take the opportunity to speak to this report of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. I believe that our Constitution is inadequate while ever the First Australians are not recognised in it. We recognised the rights of Indigenous Australians to be citizens in the famous referendum in 1967, but we need to take the next step—it’s absolutely critical.

Last May, 250 First Nations leaders met at Uluru. They delivered a historic document, the Statement from the Heart. It is a powerful document, and it included the following powerful passage:

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

Indeed, those of us who are the descendants of migrants, which is all of us except First Nations people, benefit enormously from the fact that we have, in our midst, the oldest continuous civilisation on the planet. It is something that we should cherish. It is something we should recognise.

Something that we should acknowledge is that the arrival of Europeans in 1788 brought violence, disease and hardship on those people who had been here for 60,000 years previously. We should also acknowledge how we’re enriched by that culture. The connection that First Nations people have with the land and with water is something that we can learn a great deal from, so Labor very much accepts the Statement from the Heart. We support a voice to parliament and we support constitutional change.

When the 250 First Nations leaders delivered the Statement from the Heart, the then Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull, simply dismissed the call for a constitutional voice. He told the ABC:

I don’t believe that would be able to be passed at a referendum and it’s not a policy that I would support.

Instead of committing himself to listening to First Nations people, to showing leadership for our nation, his government mounted a scare campaign about so-called third chambers of parliament and rejected the proposal out of hand. That was tragic. It followed, and was reminiscent of, the Howard government’s failed recognition of an apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people—an apology that was famously delivered by Kevin Rudd at the first opportunity after the election of a Labor government. As the Leader of the House of Representatives in that government, that was my proudest moment—my proudest moment, bar none.

Around the country, far from it being a time of division, it was a unifying moment in our nation’s history. People, whether they were members of the stolen generation or young kids in every school around the country, stopped to watch that apology. They were inspired by that moment.

That was important, but it was, as then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said at the time, just a first step. He said that we needed to commit to practical reconciliation, closing the gaps—in some cases extremely large gaps—between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their fellow Australians that still exist in education, health and other outcomes.

The voice to parliament could also be a unifying moment. It’s not a third chamber; it plays no role in the legislative process in terms of making law. It is simply what the title implies: a voice whereby First Nations people would be consulted on legislation that affects them. It would provide a structure for that consultation and input. It wouldn’t determine what way any one of the 150 members of the House of Representatives or 76 senators would vote on legislation, but it would allow for appropriate democratic input. That is why it is critical. That is why we have committed to consulting with First Nations people to design the voice to parliament. That is why Labor’s response has been worked up with the input particularly of Senator Patrick Dodson, widely regarded as the father of reconciliation in this country; Linda Burney, my long-time colleague and friend; Senator Malarndirri McCarthy; Warren Snowdon, the member for Lingiari; and Luke Gosling, who’s here in the chamber, the member for Solomon. They have all worked very hard to consult and to establish a process moving forward.

This report is part of that process. It is keeping the fight for constitutional recognition alive in this parliament, despite the inaction of the government. But there is much more to do. That’s why we’re committed to additional reforms proposed by the Statement from the Heart—in particular the makarrata commission for agreement making and truth-telling. That’s why we remain committed to closing the gap.

I said in this place on the 10th anniversary of the apology:

Of course, the apology was not the end of the story; it was just the beginning … it was just a step on the road to reconciliation.

I believed that then and I believe that today. The national apology was a step on this road, closing the gap means more steps on this road, and constitutional recognition is a vital step in us truly coming together as a nation. On this side of the house, Labor is committed to continuing on this journey. I know that across the parliament there are many people of goodwill who are also committed to this journey. I believe we need to advance it because it’s in the interests not just of First Nations peoples but of each and every Australian and those generations to come.

Dec 5, 2018

Constituency Statements – Westconnex – Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:43): Tonight work starts at the Pyrmont Bridge Road site for WestConnex stage 3. The project starts tonight but the community consultation processes are next week! What we have is a state government that consults the community after the work starts, and it wonders why there’s so much alienation from the state government when it comes to its infrastructure proposals, whether it be WestConnex or the light rail project. What has characterised it is a lack of proper planning, a lack of proper community consultation, and a lack of appropriate outcomes.

We know that there have been examples of houses which are seeing their walls cracked, which are seeing damage, but there’s no process, as had been called for by the shadow transport minister in New South Wales, Jodi McKay, to ensure that the community can get an independent assessment of whether the damage has been caused by tunnelling activity or not.

Surely the state government should put in place a proper process there, just like they should also put in place proper filtering of the stacks for this project. You have the state Liberal government saying there should be filtering on the North Shore in schools, but not saying that for schools in my electorate. These processes need to be looked after in an appropriate way. I call on the New South Wales government to filter the exhaust stacks and to ensure there is a proper process for residents to be able to go to if there is any damage to homes as the result of this infrastructure work.

Dec 4, 2018

Consideration of Legislation – Tuesday, 4 December 2018

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent private Members’ business order of the day No. 8 relating to the High Speed Rail Planning Authority Bill 2018 standing in the name of the Member for Grayndler being called on immediately and being given priority over all other business for passage through all stages by 1.30 pm today.

Leave not granted.

Mr ALBANESE: I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for Grayndler from moving the following motion forthwith:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent private Members’ business order of the day No. 8 relating to the High Speed Rail Planning Authority Bill 2018 standing in the name of the Member for Grayndler being called on immediately and being given priority over all other business for passage through all stages by 1.30 pm today.

This suspension of standing orders will be seconded by my colleague and high-speed rail advocate the member for Indi. The reason we are raising this issue again today is the failure of the government to advance this project in the five years in which they have held office. Prior to 2013 we had a comprehensive study of high-speed rail from Brisbane through to Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra. That study went into a great deal of detail, down to the design of where the stations would be. It found a positive economic benefit. For example, it found between Sydney and Melbourne a benefit of $2.50—that is, a benefit greater than double the expenditure for that investment. So the work has been done.

That work also found that a journey from Sydney to Melbourne or from Sydney to Brisbane—both of which are top-10 aviation routes in the world—would take under three hours. It also found that it would make a big difference to decentralisation and to regional economic development, not the least of which right here in the national capital. It would also be of enormous benefit for great cities like Newcastle, as well as for the Albury-Wodonga region. It would make an enormous difference. Putting that region under an hour from Melbourne would change the whole economics of jobs and opportunities in that region, which is why we are supporting this.

We tried to establish a process that would go beyond just a term of government or indeed the presence of any particular side in government. After that report we established the High Speed Rail Advisory Group. That included the former member for Farrer, the former Leader of the National Party and former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer. It included Jennifer Westacott, the head of the Business Council of Australia. So, for those people who say, ‘Oh, this is just some airy-fairy project,’ it is not. It is about economic growth and development. It’s about jobs. It’s about decentralisation. It’s about dealing with urban congestion. It also included representatives like the head of the Australasian Railway Association. It included representatives of local government.

The fact is that what you need—and the advisory group found this—to drive the project, because it is interjurisdictional, is an authority that crosses the Commonwealth government and the governments of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT, as well as local government representatives. We provided, in the 2013 budget, funding for that authority of $54 million. That $54 million was cut by the incoming Abbott government. It was cut because they cut every single dollar for any rail project that wasn’t under construction. So, as well as the Melbourne Metro, the Cross River Rail, Perth rail and Launceston light rail, the funding was cut for high-speed rail.

And yet, as Australians who travel overseas know, anyone who is in London and wants to get to Paris goes on the train. Anyone who’s in Rome and wants to get to Milan goes on the train. Anyone who’s in Tokyo and wants to go to Osaka goes on the train. People who want to go from Beijing to Shanghai go on the train. The whole world, every continent on this planet, is building high-speed rail—in Africa, South America, North America, Europe and Asia. The only occupied continent which isn’t is right here in Australia. And the fact is that, just like renewables, the technology of today and the future is getting cheaper. It’s getting more effective. The trains are getting faster and more efficient both in terms of travel times and boosting productivity and in terms of their impact on the environment.

But what Infrastructure Australia found last year, in a report to the government that it has ignored, is that you need to preserve the corridor now, because, if you don’t preserve the corridor now, it will have an enormous impact in terms of cost. The 2013 study by Infrastructure Australia found that the eventual cost will increase by $21 billion if we don’t preserve the corridor now. Our big study found, in terms of the viability of the project, that travel on the east coast of Australia is forecast to grow by about 1.8 per cent every year over the next two decades, an increase of 60 per cent by 2035. East coast trips will double from 152 million in 2009 to 355 million over coming decades.

We need to plan right now. We need to preserve the corridor right now. We need that intergovernmental cooperation right now. Indeed, the Premier of New South Wales said this on 23 August 2017:

Of course we would love to see high speed rail servicing our State but for this to be viable it would need to travel beyond NSW and it would require federal involvement.

She was right then, but she’s wrong today, because today, in the lead-up to a state election in New South Wales, she’s floating these tiny little routes just in New South Wales for regional centres, with no dollars and no jurisdiction, no governance arrangements and no plan to actually get it done. So once again, in the lead-up to an election, we have that. It’s just a cynical exercise.

That is why we had a serious process. That is why I appointed Tim Fischer to try and drag the dinosaurs over there who sit in the coalition across to modernity, to the future, to what we need. Tim Fischer was an absolutely genuine supporter of high-speed rail and remains so today, as does the business community, as does local government and as do state governments. But what it needs is some national leadership.

The opportunity is there with this legislation. I have moved this legislation five times since 2013, and it has lapsed because those opposite haven’t been interested in it. We know from the leak to the Herald Sun that in this year’s budget they allocated $1.5 billion for high-speed rail. They haven’t made the announcement yet, but we know that they put the funding aside. What for? We’re not quite sure. Well, let’s get on with establishing the authority, because the first thing you need to do before you can build the train is to have the corridor, and that costs money. That costs dollars. We know the money is there; we know we should set up an authority.

Today, why doesn’t the parliament unite—Labor, crossbenchers and coalition members—to actually vote for something that the Australian people overwhelmingly support? That’s why the Premier of New South Wales has discovered this issue and done a little leak to the Herald today about this issue, without a plan, without an idea of how it gets progressed. Well, this is how it gets progressed. It is not just me who says this; Jennifer Westacott from the Business Council of Australia says this; Tim Fischer says this; the Australasian Railway Association says this; the Rail, Tram and Bus Union says this; local government says this.

This is an opportunity. We can have this legislation through by 1.30 today. What that would do is send a message that this parliament will do its job, that it’s prepared to act in the interests of Australians, not just engage in squabbling about who’s doing what and who’s on top of who over there in the coalition. This is an opportunity, and we’re giving it to the government, to adopt this, pass the suspension motion and put the bill through. I thank the member for Indi for seconding this motion.

The SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded?

Nov 29, 2018

Statements on Indulgence – Melbourne: Attacks – Thursday, 29 November 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (11:00): Terror is intended to divide us. Its aim is to build anxiety about whether our everyday activities are safe. Terror is supposed to remind us that they are not, that we should fear our neighbours because they aren’t what they seem or perhaps because they don’t look like us. It seeks to tear us down at the very moment when we need to build each other up. But, time and again, through the worst of humanity the best still shines through—a gentle reminder that division will get us nowhere. This is true of Sisto Malaspina, who made a life out of building a community in his corner of Melbourne, the iconic Pellegrini’s on Bourke Street, a place I visited many times over the years, often as an escape from meetings held in Melbourne at state parliament or the Commonwealth parliamentary offices or with members of the business community—from time to time, out the back with Sisto’s great friend Lindsay Fox. There was great coffee, as has been said, but even better service, and that’s because Sisto welcomed everyone. You were always welcome at Pellegrini’s. Indeed, as Harold Mitchell commented at Sisto’s state funeral, ‘Pellegrini’s was the United Nations’. It saw Hollywood stars, ministers and diplomats through its doors. But it also saw tourists and locals, all of whom would sit side by side at the cafe’s long bar. It, indeed, was a little bit of Italy right there in Melbourne.

The loss of Sisto in the Bourke Street lone wolf attack on 9 November this year, which also injured two other men, is devastating for his family and for the enormous number of friends that he had. I want to pay my condolences to Sisto’s wife, Vicki, children, David and Lisa, and baby granddaughter, Sofia. But it is truly the nation’s loss as well, because Sisto was a larger-than-life person whose commitment to his work turned Pellegrini’s into the institution it is today. Creating a legacy is no easy feat, but through his warmth and his commitment to serving his community Sisto achieved exactly that. In the days after the attack I also visited Pellegrini’s with Richard Wynne, the member for Richmond, to sign the condolence book and to pay my respects to Sisto’s life and contribution to our great multicultural nation of Australia.

Sisto’s story is an Italian immigrant’s story. It’s a proud Australian story. Born in a small town in the Marche region of Italy in 1944, he moved to Australia in the 1960s. His career started with odd jobs in the meatworks. He went on to catering, and in 1974 he took over Pellegrini’s with his co-owner and dear friend Nino Pangrazio, a business venture that has well and truly stood the test of time. He was passionate about the opera and the Essendon Football Club. His commitment to family, friends and Pellegrini’s was reflected in the more than 1,300 people who paid their respects at his funeral.

Melbourne won’t be the same without Sisto Malaspina, and that’s a fact, but we would all do well to live by his example: to show warmth and friendship to people that we know and, importantly, to people that we don’t know; to put division aside; and to build the kind of diverse, vibrant community where people are respected no matter what their background—a community that says ‘no’ to hate, which, in its extreme forms, leads to atrocious acts by those who act in the name of religion but who do nothing but disrespect the fundamental tenets of faith and their fellow human beings. We want the vibrant communities that make our nation the success that it is today.

Nov 29, 2018

Constituency Statement – Tom Uren AC Memorial Lecture – Thursday, 29 November 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:54): This Sunday I will host the second annual Tom Uren AC Memorial Lecture at Petersham Town Hall at 2 pm. The guest speaker is Gareth Evans on the topic ‘It’s time for Australia to punch our weight in foreign affairs’. Of course, Gareth Evans was the foreign minister in the Hawke and Keating governments. He was an activist minister who used his time to make a real difference, lifting Australia’s international engagement to a new level as a creative middle power.

He promoted peace and stability in our region, in Cambodia in particular. His service didn’t end there. He headed the International Crisis Group, the independent global conflict prevention resolution organisation, for the decade following 2000. Gareth is now the chancellor of the Australian National University. The former UN secretary Kofi Annan described Gareth Evans as ‘one of the world’s great internationalists’. He went on to say:

Gareth Evans’s career serves as an inspiration on how a spirit of optimism coupled with a keen insight for the art of the possible can create real positive change.

He was critical in promoting Australia’s role in peace and nuclear disarmament issues, including the Canberra commission.

Last year, the guest lecturer at the inaugural Tom Uren lecture was Jose Ramos-Horta, the Nobel laureate and former president of Timor-Leste. This Sunday, Gareth Evans will be introduced by our shadow foreign minister—and the person I hope is Australia’s next foreign minister—Senator Penny Wong. I’m very pleased Senator Wong is giving up her time to be a part of what is an important community event. It’s a community event in honour of, I believe, one of the greatest Australians: Tom Uren, a friend, mentor and father figure to me. He was a giant of the Australian progressive political movement, a campaigner for international justice and a former prisoner of war, who was not embittered about that traumatic and terrible experience during the Second World War. He was someone who came out of that experience committed to ensuring and promoting peace throughout the world, someone who was a principled advocate who always treated people with respect. I’d encourage all people in the inner west to come along on Sunday to Petersham Town Hall for what will be a momentous event.

Nov 29, 2018

Fair Work Amendment (Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Bill 2018 – Second Reading – Thursday, 29 November, 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12:55): I rise to support the amendment moved to the Fair Work Amendment (Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Bill 2018 by the member for Gorton. This bill is a small step forward, but it doesn’t do what is required. The bill proposes that the National Employment Standards be amended to provide all employees with an entitlement to five days unpaid family and domestic violence leave. It follows the decision of the Fair Work Commission in March of this year to insert a clause into modern awards with an entitlement providing for five days unpaid family and domestic violence leave. This decision came into effect from 1 August. It has provided more than two million award-reliant employees with up to five days unpaid domestic violence leave. This is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough.

In just the first two weeks of October, seven women in Australia lost their lives to violence. The majority of these crimes were committed by people they knew. The statistics on violence against women in Australia are indeed shocking and shameful. In Australia, on average at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner. One in four Australian women have experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner. Women are five times more likely than men to require medical attention or hospitalisation as a result of intimate partner violence and five times more likely to report fearing for their lives. Half of these victims have children in their care. Women with disabilities experience high levels of violence. Indigenous women experience higher rates of more severe forms of violence than the rest of the population. Domestic violence is the leading cause of death, disability and illness amongst women aged between 15 and 44 years. It is higher than motor vehicle accidents, blood pressure or smoking. Just think about that.

I have had the privilege of serving as both the minister and the shadow minister for transport. One of the big issues that we deal with is road safety and trying to get the number of fatalities and serious injuries on our roads down. We developed the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-20. That was recently inquired into in a good piece of work initiated by the government to have a strategy over the next three years, 2018 to 2020. That inquiry consulted people who were families of the victims of road fatalities and trauma. There was a great deal of attention given to that. But the figures pale into far less significance compared with what happens to women in homes around our nation. Whilst very few road fatalities occur as a result of a deliberate act by someone behind the wheel, these fatalities and trauma occur as a direct result of deliberate actions by someone—overwhelmingly men, overwhelmingly the partners or husbands of women—who makes a conscious decision to commit an act of violence, which, at its most extreme, can result in a murder. Yet, tragically in my view, it has not received the significance or the attention that it deserves of this parliament or, indeed—because this isn’t just an issue for this parliament—of our society.

When you look at the statistics, they tell you that it must be the case that all of us have friends or family members who are engaged in this activity. That must be the case, given the quite horrific numbers that we are talking about. Domestic violence destroys individuals, destroys families and destroys communities. The insidious reach of domestic violence across our nation places an obligation on the national government to do what it can to support those affected. I do want to pay tribute to those amazing women who work in centres, including the one located in my electorate, that deal with victims of rape and domestic violence. Those women do extraordinary jobs under what must be extraordinary emotional pressure to improve the lives of women and their children.

If we need an argument for strong intervention, beyond common sense and decency, it’s that so much of the research tells us that there’s an ongoing cycle of violence in families once it has occurred. The fact that young people are exposed to that is tragic. It is something that requires a response from the whole of our society. But we also have an obligation to do what we can, and we are in a position to make a difference. That’s why I implore the government to show a bit of courage and support the amendment put forward by my colleague the member for Gorton and put in place 10 days leave, which should be, in my view, a minimal requirement.

We know that the ABS estimates that around two-thirds of women who experience domestic violence are in the workforce. What that means is that some 800,000 women are experiencing some form of violence in their homes at a time when they are also contributing to an income, largely to look after their kids as well as themselves. Quite often, we also know that physical violence will be associated with violence of other forms—psychological violence and violence of intimidation, including the withholding of financial support for women in those situations. So, very clearly, we should do what our neighbours across in New Zealand have done and introduce 10 days paid leave. They did it in July of this year. It makes sense.

Apart from the significant personal impact of violence, we know that there are also costs to employers when a worker is living with violence—increased absenteeism, increased staff turnover, decreased performance, decreased productivity, conflict among workers and safety issues if the perpetrator of violence has to be at the workplace, because, as we just heard from the member for Longman, sometimes the perpetrator of that violence will turn up at the workplace. In a report into the economic aspects of domestic violence leave by The Australia Institute, Dr Jim Stanford confirmed what domestic violence counsellors have been saying for decades—that economic insecurity is one of the most significant obstacles confronting women in their decision of whether to leave or not leave a violent relationship.

We know that the most dangerous time for a woman is when she is leaving a violent relationship, and many of us have had those experiences firsthand. This time, in addition to fearing for her safety, she will need to find new, secure accommodation, get an AVO, seek treatment if required and, potentially, attend court appearances. Introducing paid domestic violence leave into the National Employment Standards provides an important opportunity to reach people living with violence and to give them support. It sends a clear message that domestic violence is not acceptable in any workplace or in our society.

Senator Mathias Cormann has said that domestic violence leave is just another cost on our economy that will have an impact on our international competitiveness. The former Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash, said that paid domestic violence leave is ‘a perverse disincentive’ leading to women not getting jobs. These are ill-informed and ignorant claims which are dangerous and negligent. It’s time that these senior members of the government step back and had a rethink on an issue that should be well above politics, because we know that some of Australia’s most successful and profitable businesses have introduced paid domestic violence leave—Qantas, IKEA, NAB, Westpac, Woolworths and Telstra. Indeed, more than 1,000 enterprise agreements approved under the Fair Work Act between 1 January 2016 and 30 June 2017 provide for 10 days or more of paid domestic and family violence leave. Both the Queensland and Western Australian governments offer 10 days paid domestic violence leave to public sector employees. South Australia offers 15 days. In Victoria and here in the ACT, it is 20 days.

Make no mistake: not paying domestic violence leave is not free. There’s a cost to those experiencing family violence, but there’s also a cost to the economy. Paid domestic violence leave will make it easier for women to leave violence. It will make it easier to keep children safe. It will make our workforce healthier and safer, and it will save lives. As with every other major social and economic reform, there are some who will say that it will damage business, but the reality is that the cost of inaction is far too high. It’s 2018; we know what the circumstances are. There are no more excuses for not taking action and for not taking action in this parliament.

Nov 27, 2018

Constituency Statement – Mrs Elizabeth Ann Symonds, AM – Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:00): I rise to pay tribute to the late Ann Symonds. Ann Symonds was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council from 1982 to 1998. She was made a Member of the Order of Australia, an honour bestowed in recognition of her significant services to social justice, particularly through drug law reform, and to the New South Wales parliament. Ann passed away last week peacefully with her family.

Ann was a collectivist. She was elected as Waverley’s first female deputy mayor in 1977, and she continued to be a trailblazer. From her Bronte home, she embodied the spirit of ‘agitate, educate, organise’ with the formidable eastern suburbs left, including Jeannette McHugh, Ernie Page, Sue and Paul Tracey, Fay Gervasoni, Paul Pearce and so many others, and believed in social movements and in translating that into legislative change, working with New South Wales left leaders, including Bruce Childs, Tom Uren, Jack Ferguson and Frank Walker. Ann, though, had a capacity to reach across the aisle, and the tributes made to her last week in the New South Wales parliament from Liberals, from Nationals, from Greens Party members and from Independents are an example of that.

What distinguished Ann, I believe, was her preparedness to pursue causes that were not high on the public agenda at the time of her initial engagement—the issue of women in prisons and the impact that that had on their children; the issue of safe injecting rooms as part of drug law reform, a challenge that was opposed strenuously when it was first advanced by people who had family affected by drugs; the issue of juvenile justice. These issues were never fashionable, but Ann took them forward in a way that was courageous and passionate. Ann Symonds blazed the policy trail in the causes of peace, progress and justice. She was a principled, determined and, at times, provocative advocate. She had the respect of all who dealt with her. She was a mentor to many, including me. She was patient and generous with her time.

Ann was a serious person, but Ann was also tremendous fun. She enjoyed life and she had a capacity to give pleasure to all those who knew her and had the privilege to be in her company. I pay tribute to Ann. She was much loved and she had so much love to give: to her family, to her friends, to her party and to generations of activists. I loved her and I will miss her. The world is a better place as a direct result of her presence here on this planet.

Nov 27, 2018

Business – Days and Hours of Meetings – Tuesday, 27 November, 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (18:15): I am very pleased to second this amendment and to oppose what is the biggest try-on by a member of the coalition that we’ve seen with regard to a sitting calendar since the former member for Mackellar misread the sitting calendar and argued at this despatch box that parliament was sitting on Christmas Day, according to the schedule—a legendary performance! The coalition admired that contribution so much that it led them to make the member for Mackellar the Speaker in the government—and didn’t that work out well for them!

Well, we have another legend, according to the Treasurer: the Leader of the House, who has put forward this quite extraordinary and bold timetable. What this timetable has is that parliament will get up here on 6 December, next Thursday. Then there’s a seven-day sitting. By the way, the Senate is not sitting on four of those days. They are for the estimates processes. So there are three days for the Senate to deal with legislation. Then we have the budget week. Then the Prime Minister, whoever it is at that time—because there’s still time to change your mind, folks; there’s still time for one more coup—will go to Yarralumla to request an election on 11 May or 18 May, which are the only two dates now that the Prime Minister has effectively announced the budget on 2 April. That means he’s announced the election date in May, as well. So there will be 10 sitting days between now, when parliament gets up next Thursday, and July or whenever the parliament comes back, which is most likely to actually be August. So we’re talking about 10 sitting days in eight months. That is what they’re proposing here. For the Senate, they’re proposing six sitting days in eight months. That’s what’s before this parliament here.

We worry about a government that has lost its way and doesn’t have an agenda before the parliament. But—for goodness’ sake!—this is just lazy. It is opportunistic. But it’s something a little bit more serious than that, too, because it is contemptuous of the democratic will of the people. It’s contemptuous of this parliament as an institution. It is contemptuous of the rights of members of this House of Representatives and of senators to actually do the jobs that they are elected to do. And would we just go along with a timetable such as this?

Clearly, this is a government that is terrified of the parliament that it’s supposed to preside over. What we know is that it’s not just that they’re scared of us on this side of the chamber and of the crossbenches; they’re absolutely terrified of each other. They know that in the next fortnight as well, we’ll have more articles about whether there will be another Deputy Prime Minister, because the National Party are still engaging in the hunt of Michael McCormack by the former Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce. And we know the problem that they have, really, is that when the parliament meets the party room meets, and that’s what they want to avoid.

It isn’t too late for the government to change leaders. Remember that the current Prime Minister—according to the Prime Minister-twice-removed, the member for Warringah—got there with just a handful of votes, five votes, in the caucus. He wasn’t supported by the Liberal Party. He wasn’t the preferred leader. He wasn’t even the second-preferred leader, who was the member for Dickson. He was not even the third-preferred leader, who was the member for Curtin. He was the fourth choice as the leader of the Liberal Party. No wonder they’re worried about having party room meetings. That’s their problem.

But the problem for the Australian people is that the government are proposing here to come back late. I’ve put out a few parliamentary sitting schedules in my time. I did it six times. What we normally do is look for when Australia Day is. Australia Day this coming year, of course, is on a weekend. We would normally come back on the Tuesday after Australia Day. That’s the normal process. But those opposite are not doing that. They’re leaving it until 12 February, and because the Manager of Opposition Business is a generous fellow we let them have that week so they get all the Christmas cheer and they get extra time with each other. Quite frankly, the only thing in favour of this schedule is we don’t have to see them. We come back to sit on 12 February but for just two weeks. So what we’re saying is to have two extra weeks with just three sitting days in each of those weeks, because there are public holidays on the Mondays. So there are six extra sitting days to hold the executive to account, and that is appropriate because that’s the job of the elected representatives.

The member for Wentworth changed from being the Prime Minister to being the honourable member who was sworn in just yesterday. It seems like a long time ago; I’m sure it seems longer for those opposite. And today there’s another new crossbencher up there as well. So, because of that, parliament suddenly becomes too hard and we won’t meet. Well, that’s not the way that it works. You have to deal with the parliament that the Australian people give you. We dealt with the parliament, and I, as the Leader of the House, could rely on 70 votes out of 150. But we worked in a mature and cooperative way with the crossbenchers and we worked as well with many of those opposite in the coalition. We actually had policy debates in the national interest and we ensured that we were able to get through a legislative agenda in that parliament that included the National Disability Insurance Scheme, that included climate change action, that included the Gonski education reforms and that included re-writing the shipping policies.

The fact is that we were able to deal with the parliament that the people of Australia elected. The problem for those opposite isn’t just that they can’t deal with the parliament that the Australian people elected they also can’t deal with the caucus that the Australian people gave them. That’s the real problem here; their internals. But they’re terrified by the externals in terms of the parliament that they can’t deal with.

So parliament should sit for two weeks extra—three days in each week. It’s a reasonable proposition, and if the government is smart they’ll actually roll over on this and support it.

Nov 26, 2018

Questions Without Notice – Prime Minister – Monday, 26 November 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (14:51): My question is addressed to the Prime Minister, and I refer to various answers he has given in this chamber to, ‘Why isn’t Malcolm Turnbull still the Prime Minister of Australia?’ If the Prime Minister won’t tell Australians why he’s got his current job, will he at least say why he was sacked from his role as head of Tourism Australia by former coalition government tourism minister Fran Bailey in the Howard government?

The SPEAKER: I’m not calling the Prime Minister straightaway. I’m just pondering the relevance of the last part of that question. It needs to relate to the Prime Minister’s responsibilities, not to—

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: He wasn’t then, no.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: As generous as I am, I can’t see that question being in order. The member for Grayndler on a point of order?

Mr Albanese: Thanks, Mr Speaker. The point of order is with regards to why the question was, at least in part, in order—

The SPEAKER: Yes—

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Hang on. Members on my right. I want to keep hearing the member for Grayndler. I’m liking what I hear so far.

Mr Albanese: Because I was very conscious, Mr Speaker, of your role and the potential for a ruling from you, which is why it was framed in terms of referring to previous answers that he’s given day after day after day when we’ve asked each and every day why he’s there and not Malcolm Turnbull. The question went to that—

The SPEAKER: I don’t need you to repeat every question you’ve asked; that’s okay.

Mr Albanese: No, no, I’m just referring to the number of occasions on which it’s been asked. That part of the question is certainly in order. I think he might want to have the opportunity to clear the air about the second part on why he lost his job.

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on my right. The Leader of the House?

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, on your ruling and the member for Grayndler’s point of order, you have previously said that questions that have a fig leaf of relevance—or in this case, a small tree frond of relevance—should not therefore be in order when the rest of the question is quite clearly not in order, and is really, in this case, designed to be a smear as opposed to a question.

The SPEAKER: That’s right. I’m glad that the member for Grayndler concedes that part of the question wasn’t in order.

Mr ALBANESE: It was an opportunity.

The SPEAKER: He’s been generous in saying he’s providing that opportunity, but, given that a question’s been framed that’s partly deliberately not in order, I’m just not going to allow it. The member for Dunkley.

Nov 26, 2018

Private Members Business – Climate Change – Monday, 26 November 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (18:15): I rise to support this motion, and I congratulate the member for Mayo on the comprehensive nature of the proposition that she’s put before the parliament this evening. It is common sense. We know that the precautionary principle means that we need to act on climate change; and that the sooner we act, the cheaper that action will be and the more benefit we will gain from that action. I’ve been here a while and, for a time, I was the environment and climate change spokesperson for the party. I wrote the policy with Kim Beazley, the climate change blueprint, back in 2006. We campaigned for that blueprint, which included an emissions trading scheme and a price on carbon. It included the ratification of the Kyoto protocol. It included measures to improve sustainability in housing and in transport. It included the policy supporting the Renewable Energy Target being lifted to 20 per cent by 2020. At the time we adopted that policy, the target was just two per cent, so it was a tenfold increase—an expression of the faith that we had in human ingenuity to develop technology that would make a real difference in terms of reducing our emissions, improving productivity and creating jobs at the same time.

It is important to remember that in 2007 John Howard changed his mind before that election—there had been a bipartisan position supporting an emissions trading scheme in the lead-up to that election. But, unfortunately, the coalition changed its mind when we proposed the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2009. It still would have been carried, had the Greens political party voted for that proposition in the Senate, and, if that had happened, I’m convinced that there would be a price on carbon still in place today that would have been doing its job and that would have made that transition to a clean energy future so much easier. The problem that we had wasn’t just that the climate change sceptics got control of the coalition under the former Prime Minister and member for Warringah. It’s that they became market sceptics as well, and opposed any market based mechanisms to promote change.

Since the change of government, we’ve seen the action on climate change go backwards. We’ve seen a government that has been unable to come up with a comprehensive energy plan. They had the emissions intensity scheme, then they asked the Chief Scientist to produce a policy and he came up with the clean energy target, which they abandoned, and then they had various versions of the National Energy Guarantee and, after it going through the party room not once but twice, they then abandoned their own policy. Now this government doesn’t have an energy policy, going forward. The fact is that the private sector and the energy sector are saying that what they want is certainty. They need policy certainty so as to promote that investment, but they’re not getting it from this government. They will have it from Labor. We’ll put on the table our proposal to be prepared to support the NEG and negotiate with the government. We’ve put on the table our commitment to a 45 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030, net zero emissions by 2050 and 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

The fact is that we are the party of the future in terms of government and we’re prepared to work with people of goodwill, such as the member for Mayo. I note the newly-elected member for Wentworth in the chamber this evening. We’re prepared to work with people of goodwill who understand that climate change shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It should be something that the whole parliament unites together on in order to achieve change. We’re prepared to work cooperatively with members of the coalition of goodwill as well, because this is an issue that should be beyond politics; it’s an issue about our future.

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