Nov 26, 2009

Question without notice – Parliament

Mr PRICE (3:43 PM) —My question without notice is to the Leader of the House. Would the Leader of the House outline the importance of orderly processes to ensure the timely passage of legislation through the parliament?

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) —I thank the Chief Government Whip for his question. Indeed, there is a need for order and unity in both chambers of the parliament if the parliamentary processes are going to function properly. As I highlighted earlier today, there have been 191 bills, 191 pieces of legislation, passed through this chamber this year alone—the highest number of bills in a decade, because this government has a big agenda. This would not have been possible without orderly conduct from united government members. This week has highlighted what happens in the parliament when you do not have unity. Now, on Thursday afternoon, we are not quite sure when the legislation will pass the other chamber that has been agreed to by the government and the opposition. We are not sure when it will pass—if it passes. We are not sure by how many votes it will pass or who will be the Leader of the Opposition at that time.

Yesterday morning the members for O’Connor and Tangney moved a motion to spill the Liberal Party leadership. It is true that there have been spills over the years on this side of the House as well, but never before has there been a case where the choice was between the Leader of the Opposition and nobody, and nobody got 35 votes.

Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I know it is the end of the year and people have been a bit febrile lately, but, quite frankly, this is not within the minister’s portfolio responsibilities. The standing orders make it quite clear that he is not entitled to comment on matters to do with the Liberal Party.

The SPEAKER —The member for Sturt will resume his seat. The question was in order, but can I suggest to the Leader of the House that he relates his material to the question.

Mr ALBANESE —What happens to the CPRS legislation is very much related to the business of the House It is quite interesting that yesterday 35 people voted for the ‘anyone but Turnbull’ ticket. I think I know where they got their inspiration from. The member for Tangney was the seconder of the resolution yesterday. If you type into Google ‘Copenhagen, Jensen and 35 votes’, you actually get an article from the Copenhagen Post dated 19 November 2009 entitled ‘Dead candidate gets 35 votes.’ It is about Mr Jensen, who was a candidate in an election, and he received 35 votes after—

Ms Julie Bishop —Mr Speaker, under no stretch of the imagination can this be relevant to either the minister’s portfolio responsibilities or indeed the question he was asked. I would ask that you sit him down.

The SPEAKER —The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume her seat. The Leader of the House will bring his answer to a conclusion.

Mr ALBANESE —What is relevant is getting this legislation carried, and it is quite clear that some of those opposite are determined to stymie the legislation being carried in the Senate and then returning to the House. Yesterday, after the resolution of the joint party room which rejected the leadership spill, Kevin Andrews, the member for Menzies, went out and did a press conference. He was asked:

Is your interpretation of the result today that 35 people would have preferred you as leader from here on?

He said:

Well, I think that is a reasonable interpretation to make.

I leave it to those opposite—

Ms Julie Bishop —Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER —The Leader of the House has resumed his seat.