Feb 24, 2016

Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016 – Consideration in Detail

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (17:32): It is absolutely extraordinary that what we have had here is legislation introduced into the parliament on Monday, referred to a committee, a truncated debate and standing orders suspended so that we are now dealing with the finalisation of the bill before the committee has actually met and considered any of these issues, and the farce is exposed by these six amendments.

You know why these are being moved? Because Anthony Green in his blog picked it up on Monday that, under the government’s legislation, it is possible that the Senate might never have been counted. There was no time frame for the counting of ballot papers for the Senate under the legislation that the government just voted for as did the Greens and some crossbenchers as well, except for the member Kennedy—to his credit. They just voted for the second reading of a bill that had no provisions for the actual counting of the ballot papers. That is why these amendments are here.

This legislation should not be rushed through because Lee Rhiannon and this bloke and a few other Tories sat in a room and decided what was good for Australia. I tell you what, the member for Kennedy from time to time says some very wise things—not always but from time to time. But he was absolutely spot on here because what the parties are trying to get around is the fact that some people inconveniently do not vote for the Labor Party or for the Liberal Party or for the Greens political party. The solution to that is not a fix. The solution to that is to win support for your arguments in the community. If you try and fix that through a manipulation, which is what this is, in order to say ‘you do not have a right to go out out there and form a minor party, you do not have a right to go out there and campaign for a more minor party because we will ensure that your votes are excluded’ then, I am afraid, these amendments expose how bad this dirty deal is.

I believe, and am on the record very clearly, in being in a party of government. I believe in being in the Labor Party as the progressive party in Australia that can form government. That is why I have never been interested at all in being part of a minor party or being an independent. That is where I come from. But I respect the fact that others have a right to have a different view. And if you disagree with people on the crossbenches, go and talk to them. I was Leader of the House in a parliament that had 70 votes out of 150 and we did not lose a vote—not one, for 595 pieces of legislation—by treating people with respect here and in the Senate, by treating them like adults. This is not treating people like adults.

This is a fix done behind closed doors and rammed through this parliament, rammed through this House and it will be rammed through the Senate. Guess what? The government have foreshadowed a double-D election. What justification is there for that apart from allowing these people opposite to avoid handing down a budget like they did in 2014, to avoid scrutiny over the privatisation of the Australian Rail Track Corporation, the privatisation of Medicare, the privatisation of education services? That is what this is about. They are the ramifications of this legislation.

I say we should reject this legislation. We should reject it as a parliament. We should reject it, partly, if we are not sure. If you are not sure whether they have got all of this right, then there should be proper scrutiny. These six amendments, coming 48 hours after this legislation was introduced, show why this shabby deal should be rejected by the people of Australia.