Jun 5, 2013

Motion to Suspend Standing Orders

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Regional Development and Local Government) (15:25):  We will not be lectured on national security and these matters by the party of ‘Wheat for Weapons’ and the party that gave us the Haneef scandal—

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER:  The Leader of the House will refer to the suspension motion before the House.

Mr ALBANESE:  and that is why standing orders should not be suspended.

Mr Morrison interjecting—

Mr ALBANESE:  I am happy to have a point of order from you, Member for Cook. We should not suspend Standing Orders because what we have before this Parliament over the next week and the week after that is nine days of sittings left. We have approaches from the opposition saying: ‘Please, Leader of the House, can you make time for us to deal with a range of issues?’ ‘Can you make time for us to deal with valedictories?’ ‘Can you make time for us so that we can filibuster on the Education Bill?’ That is why we should not suspend standing orders.

Mr Morrison:  Still filibustering.

The SPEAKER:  The member for Cook is not amusing.

Mr ALBANESE:  Earlier on today, we had about five contributions from the Manager of Opposition Business.

Mr Pyne:  Four.

Mr ALBANESE:  Four? I stand corrected by the Manager of Opposition Business. We had four contributions from the Manager of Opposition Business, and the usual suspects that they line up when they are filibustering. The Member for Bradfield is a special. There are others who come in here regularly to filibuster—

Mr Hawke interjecting—

Mr ALBANESE:  including the Member for Mitchell. What they said was that the Education Bill was the priority. They said that was the priority and now they seek to suspend standing orders so that they can speak about an inquiry when the Prime Minister has already announced an inquiry by the appropriate Inspector-General. The Prime Minister has very clearly set an appropriate course of action, which is why we should not be suspending Standing Orders. It contradicts the behaviour of those opposite throughout not just today but the entire week. We had earlier on today the Member for Lyne—

Mr Pyne interjecting—

Mr Keenan interjecting—

The SPEAKER:  The Members for Sturt and Stirling might be struggling to stay in the chamber for the vote.

Mr ALBANESE:  The Member for Lyne had to indeed move that the motion be put on the Education Bill, because they wanted to continue to debate education. And we were happy with debating education. But they stood up and gave the same speech as the Member for Sturt did, not once, not twice, not three times, but—on his own account—four separate occasions. Members of the opposition come in here in order to filibuster just to delay them putting on the record their opposition to opportunity being given to Australian kids, regardless of their background and regardless of whether they went to a public school or a private school or an independent school or a Catholic school. They tried to delay that process.

At the same time they come to me and they ask for discussions to be held about the way that Parliament will proceed over the remaining days of the 43rd Parliament. I am always happy, as you are aware, Speaker, to accommodate the opposition whenever I can, because that is the kind of Leader of the House that I am; I am inclusive and always happy to take on board any reasonable request from the opposition or the crossbenchers, as the crossbenchers are indicating right now.

So we have had a specific request from a number of members opposite. I will not embarrass them by putting it on the record because I can actually keep a secret between Members of Parliament when it is appropriate that it be kept. They have come to me and they have asked for particular times. Also collectively earlier on today I had a discussion with the Manager of Opposition Business about what the priorities would be over the next 10 days.

Mr Fletcher:  Name them.

The SPEAKER:  The Member for Bradfield might be named in a moment.

Mr ALBANESE:  I think the Member for Bradfield should stick to those little five-minute contributions. What they have done when they come before this chamber is say that they want all of their priorities, but whenever the opportunity arises from those opposite, what they do is delay, move suspensions of Standing Orders.

You might take their suspensions remotely seriously had they not done it day after day after day. Indeed, they have proposed more suspensions of standing orders in the 43rd Parliament than were proposed in the previous 42 parliaments put together. It is a strategy that they have. We have all had to engage in what we have seen from the Leader of the Opposition: the longest dummy spit in Australian political history. They have had one strategy, which is to not engage in serious debate, in spite of the fact that this Parliament has presented unique opportunities not seen since the period during the Second World War, because a government that does not have a majority on its branches has to engage by definition with the whole Parliament in order to secure the passage of legislation. But those opposite, rather than put up alternative pieces of legislation, rather than ask serious questions during question time, rather than engage in serious issues and put forward an alternative vision for this nation, have chosen instead relentless negativity day after day.

If anything symbolises the relentless negativity of those opposite it is the day-after-day suspensions of Standing Orders. How do I know it is Wednesday? Because this is the third suspension of Standing Orders this week. How will I know it is Thursday? Because tomorrow will be the fourth. Every day they come in here like clockwork. It has changed a little bit; it used to be that they did it at 10 to three, just before Playschool came on at three o’clock, so that the Leader of the Opposition got the 10 minutes prior to three o’clock in terms of broadcast time. We have had a slight change in the timing but no change in the strategy. Why? Because, in spite of the fact that we have a minority government dependent upon winning the arguments, the intellectual arguments, for our program of action, whether it be the education reforms that have gone through this week, whether it be DisabilityCare, whether it be the mental health package, whether it be the jobs bill, whether it be the infrastructure legislation— (Time expired)