Oct 13, 2011

Motion to suspend standing order

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (15:06): I am pleased to once again, on a daily basis, have the opportunity to speak on the procedural motion for the suspension of standing orders moved by the Leader of the Opposition—once again moved at 10 to 3 because Playschool starts on ABC TV at 3 pm.

Playschool as politics: as was tweeted out before, ‘If I was Playschool I’d be asking for a new support act!’ That is what people out there are saying, because what we have heard is not up to the quality of Little Ted and Big Ted. What we have heard from those opposite is once again a concentration just on the politics, not on the substance.

Let us have a look at the substance of what they are talking about here. When we introduced the migration bills we offered to the opposition a vote on it prior to question time on the day on which they were debated, the Thursday before last. What they did was stack the speakers list so that we had five hours and 13 minutes of debate. But they have gone further because today they have listed 29 opposition speakers to address this issue, for 15 minutes each. We know that maths is not their strong point, because they are searching for the $70 billion they have in that black hole, but let me inform them that that adds up to over seven hours of speakers just from the opposition.

They know that on Thursday there are four hours and 45 minutes dedicated to government business, including the private members business that they insisted on. If you go through the Hansard of this morning, you will find opposition members seeking leave to address issues—many important issues. The member for Hughes gave a good speech, by leave, about the human rights of Coptic Christians in Egypt. There were a range of other issues.

During the bill on work safety the relevant shadow minister did not just speak once during the consideration in detail stage but spoke twice to the same amendments that she had moved. The opposition called for quorums to be formed three times. That took up 12 minutes of time. Then the Manager of Opposition Business had the hide to come into this parliament and move a point of order saying the parliament should have been shut down and asked the Deputy Speaker at the time to consult with you, Mr Speaker, about whether it was inappropriate that parliament be allowed to continue.

Indeed, the very bill that is before the parliament right now on education is a bill in which the Manager of Opposition Business has carriage. He knows that we offered yesterday to refer it to the Main Committee because it is a budget bill and a bill they say they are not opposed to. But this man’s fragile ego is so big he did not want to speak in the Main Committee. No, he wanted to take up the time of the main chamber. The hypocrisy is writ large. This is a budget bill that needs passage.

Yesterday, what we saw throughout the day from the opposition was speaker after speaker being added to the speakers list. The fact is that the Leader of the Opposition says he is keen on a vote but he does not have a good record of turning up when votes are held. He missed the vote on health bills—despite being the health minister at the time—on 3 June 2008. He also missed votes on 8 September 2009, and on 3 February 2010. He slept through the economic stimulus bills. He missed a number of other votes on important broadband and electoral reform bills. He missed votes on the Nation-building Funds Bill and on the road charges bills.

On 4 June 2009 he missed four votes on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

What we have seen all week is, once again, the opposition talking down the economy. We have seen that the Leader of the Opposition is all about the politics and never about the substance. Perhaps a quote that puts that best was when he compared losing office as a minister to losing a parent. He said:

” We all need grief counselling … It’s like a bereavement. Not as bad as losing a child or a spouse but up there with losing a parent. “

That is what the Leader of the Opposition had to say about losing office. That is how obsessed he is with the politics. It is always about the politics. What we are seeing today is the continuation of the longest dummy spit in Australia’s political history. That would not be so bad except that the whole of Australia is having to put up with it.

Even when the Leader of the Opposition says he supports principles, he walks away. He says he supports offshore processing but he has walked away from that. He says he supports the rights of governments to have policies to control our borders but he walks away from that just like he walks away from everything because he is so determined to be negative and to say ‘no’.

No matter what the cost, he knows that the decision of the High Court means that the only place offshore processing can take place with certainty is New Zealand. That he knows full well. In spite of that, so short term is he—he is very cocky; he thinks he is almost there.

That night in August, when he thought he had won the election, he thought he got what he saw as his dessert. He thought that he had a right to the prime ministership of this country. Ever since then, because of his incapacity to negotiate with people and to be someone who could be seen as being broad and capable of truly representing something other than his short-minded sectarian view, which is why he lost the negotiations as well as lost the election, we have been forced to put up with this dummy spit.

He is all division and no vision.

I’m half Italian-half Irish, mate—let’s get real—so don’t accuse me of anti-Catholicism, mate! Fair dinkum. Get real.

The fact is, one of the things I learnt at St Mary’s Cathedral was about social justice, was about standing up for my principles, was about having conviction—which is why I am prepared to stand up on these matters of principle and not just say no.

What the Leader of the Opposition is attempting to do to politics in this country with his language, with his actions, with his motivations, is simply to be negative and to turn it into the sort of behaviour that we saw in the galleries yesterday. A lack of respect for our parliamentary processes, a lack of respect for democracy, because he believes it is all about him. Well it is not.

This country is much better than that and they are much too good to have you in any leadership position.