May 26, 2011

Question without notice – Business of the House

Mr FITZGIBBON (Hunter—Chief Government Whip) (15:08): I have a very relevant question to the Leader of the House. I ask him: how are members of the House approaching negotiations on the conduct of the proceedings of the House?

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (15:08): I thank the member for Hunter, the Chief Government Whip, for his question. Indeed, as of today, at 1.30, we have passed 112 pieces of legislation through this House—112 supported, zero opposed by this House of Representatives. And we have done that in just eight months. How does that compare with our predecessors? Those opposite would like to say that this parliament cannot function properly because it requires proper negotiation. The fact is that in the first 12 months of the Howard government 108 bills were passed by the House of Representatives, so we have been more efficient and more productive on this side of the House in terms of getting legislation through. Big changes have gone through the House, on the economy, on child care, on family services. This parliament is working efficiently and effectively. Through cooperation and discipline, this government is implementing its agenda to secure the future prosperity of this country.

Of course, we know that discipline is pretty important. I was sent an email earlier on today and it said this:

Last night we lost a division because the following five Coalition Members failed to support their colleagues:

Malcolm Turnbull (5 missed divisions)—margin 14.86%

He has always had a problem with emails!

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, on a point of order. I assume, in order to be directly relevant, the Leader of the House will refer to the fact that they failed to get a quorum yesterday for the government.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business knows that that is outside the standing orders. It is not a point of order; it is a point.

Mr ALBANESE: It then goes on to list Ian Macfarlane, Alby Schultz and the number of divisions that have missed, then John Forrest—even Luke Hartsuyker, the Deputy Manager of Opposition Business. And it went on to say this:

This behaviour is totally unacceptable and shows great disrespect to their colleagues and the Coalition as a whole.

As a result of the absence of these Members, the following Members missed an opportunity to raise issues important to their electorates …

And it goes through the members Tudge, Kelly, Simpkins, Southcott and Frydenberg and their respective margins. It then goes on—and it gets better. It says:

It is an interesting point to note that all the Members who missed the division occupy safe seats, while, of the Members prevented from speaking in the adjournment debate three are first term Members and all occupy marginal or key seats.

It then goes on to say:

Members are elected to Parliament to represent their constituents. That includes being present when the Parliament divides on a question.

As we know, they are so divided opposite they cannot even make it to divisions.

For the benefit of honourable members, I table the signed letter from Hon. Warren Entsch, Chief Opposition Whip, Patrick Secker, Nola Marino, Mark Coulton and Paul Neville. They are all having a go there, and I know that this was of great interest particularly to the member for Wentworth, who saw it as part of the attack by the Leader of the Opposition. This is a Leader of the Opposition who has done for political discourse what the vuvuzela did for world cup soccer—lots of noise, interesting at the beginning but annoying when that is the only noise it can make. The only noise it can make is one of opposition.

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, in the spirit of the Leader of the House tabling the letter, I seek leave to table yesterday’s Hansard section dealing with when the House closed down because the government could not maintain discipline in the chamber.

Leave not granted.