Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (17:41): I rise to speak on the Criminal Code Amendment (Firearms Trafficking) Bill 2017. I rise to support the bill that was carried by the Senate in February and which the government has sat on for eight months in an act of petulance, which typifies the attitude of this government towards the democratic processes.
Of course, the fundamental disagreement that we have over our position about maximum sentences versus their position of mandatory sentencing shows that they not only act in a petulant manner in the political sphere; they also don’t seem to comprehend the need for the separation of powers to be at the core of the functioning of our nation. That principle is something that can’t be bargained away. It’s a principle which applies at the local, state and federal levels, and it’s a principle which people who profess to support the rule of law should just understand as—dare I use the term—a mandatory principle.
But what we see today is a minister who, unlike most people in this place—we often get told that we grow older by multiples of the calendar while we’re here—gets less mature the longer he is here.
Mr ALBANESE: The minister who is prepared to act in a petulant way and an entirely inappropriate way raises the issue of personal attacks. I wasn’t going to raise what was said about the member for Cowan during the last election campaign—the member for Cowan, someone who has brought great dignity to this House of Representatives, someone who, in spite of the fact that it was at great risk to harmony and community cohesiveness in Perth, Western Australia, and in our nation, was attacked in the most outrageous way, including by someone who has the title of the Minister for Justice. And that is what is quite extraordinary.
Here we have a bill that could have become law in February. Instead, it’s been sat on for month after month, and there has been a failure to bring it on for debate, a failure to accept that the principles that we were putting forward weren’t divisible and a failure to act in a mature way, as a minister of the Crown should. The minister was sat down by the Speaker this week—something that doesn’t happen too often, I’ve got to say. I was a minister for six years and it never happened to me. Most people in this place will go through their entire political career and, if they have the honour of being a minister of the Crown, they will never be sat down. It is quite an extraordinary occurrence. But this minister chose to engage in a debate which suggested that the support of paedophilia was something that was a partisan issue, whereas it is something to which everyone in this parliament is opposed in the strongest possible way, which is why he was shut down.
I won’t cop that from a government that launches royal commissions based upon politics, whereas the single most significant royal commission that we brought about when in government was into institutional sexual abuse against children. And we did that at great political risk. We did that and it’s made a difference to people’s lives. To people who all of us know, it has made a difference, and it’s made this country better. It’s made this country better because we made this decision. Those opposite are just determined to play politics with everything—everything’s about politics, which is why you have no credibility and why you’re increasingly clutching at straws.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.