Sep 15, 2011

Question without notice – Clean Energy Legislation

Mr FITZGIBBON (Hunter—Chief Government Whip) (15:25): I ask the Leader of the House what support has been shown for the government’s efforts to ensure that all members have an opportunity to actively participate in the debate on the clean energy bills.

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (15:25): I thank the Chief Government Whip for his question. The government has been determined to ensure that we have a full democratic process around the clean energy legislation. After 35 parliamentary reviews, after the Shergold report, after the Garnaut report and after the green and white papers on the CPRS, it is time now to act. On Tuesday we introduced the legislation into this House. Yesterday we commenced the second reading debate in this House. Also on Tuesday we set up a joint parliamentary committee that will allow scrutiny from outside of the parliament on the 19 critical bills before the parliament. Government and crossbench members in both the House of Representatives and the Senate have already been nominated to participate on that committee. As yet, not a single opposition member has been nominated to participate in that process. I hope that by the end of the day they take advantage and participate in that process.

Mr Dutton: That’s a lie, Mr Speaker.

The SPEAKER: The member for Dickson should be very careful. I was distracted. The Leader of the House has the call. I will now be listening really very carefully to what is going on.

Mr ALBANESE: I was asked about what support there has been and what views there have been about the debate. There had been some issues about whether we had enough time to debate this legislation so this morning, after putting an appropriate motion on the Notice Paper,we had carried in the parliament a motion that we would sit next Tuesday between 9 am and 2 pm, without divisions, to allow an extra five hours of debate because we are determined to make sure that everyone can participate in this debate. We have also said that we would be prepared to sit at other times next week because again we want to make sure, as my learned colleague the member for Hunter has asked about, that all members can participate. Of course there have been some questions about the speakers list and who has a right to speak or not, but I am pleased indeed that, in spite of the fact—

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Mr ALBANESE: I am being totally relevant.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House will resume his seat. The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order.

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, I am not aware of how it is within the Leader of the House’s responsibilities to talk about the speakers list on this side of the House.

The SPEAKER: The question was asked and it was in order. I will listen carefully to the Leader of the House’s response to the question.

Mr ALBANESE: It is called ‘Leader of the House’ for a reason. I am not just the leader of the government in the house; I am the Leader of the House. I am responsible for facilitating all members’ rights in this House, a responsibility I take very seriously, whether they be members of the government, members of the crossbench or members of the opposition. There has been support for the action that we have taken. The Leader of the Opposition was asked whether the member for Wentworth was going to be speaking in the debate today and he said: ‘Well, that’s a matter for Malcolm; this debate will go over the next fortnight or so’—

The SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the House will resume his seat. I just want to deal with one matter: the member for Dickson will withdraw an earlier interjection which I do not think was particularly helpful.

Mr Dutton interjecting—

The SPEAKER: I was distracted at that time, but that interjection was grossly disorderly. That was my fault, but when comments are made about members of the ilk that the member for Dickson made I seek their withdrawal.

Mr Dutton: I withdraw that I said it was a lie, Mr Speaker.

The SPEAKER: No. Order! Without falling into the trap of having the comment repeated, when comments are made about—

Mr Dutton: If it will assist the House, I withdraw.

The SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member. The Leader of the House will not overly debate the question. The Leader of the House has the call.

Mr ALBANESE: What I am indicating is that the government will ensure that every single member of this House, particularly the member for Wentworth, because I want to hear what he has to say, will have a right to participate in this debate. After saying we did not have enough time those opposite argued against the extra time.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the House will bring his answer to a close.

Mr ALBANESE: We will ensure that no-one has an excuse not to participate in this legislation.

Ms Gillard: Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.