Mar 11, 2010

Question without notice – Parliament

Mr HAYES (3:42 PM) —My question is to the Leader of the House. Would the Leader of the House outline the importance of orderly processes in ensuring the timely passage of legislation through the parliament?

Mr ALBANESE (Leader of the House) —I thank the member for Werriwa for his question, and indeed I am pleased to inform the House that the division that we had just before question time, where once again those opposite opposed the legislation—this time put forward by the Minister for Resources and Energy—was the 44th piece of legislation passed through this House this year already. Indeed, last year this chamber passed 207 pieces of legislation—the highest number of bills this century, setting a new benchmark for this century at its beginning. But it is not surprising because this government has a big agenda for the nation.

However, when bills pass this House we do have a problem getting them adopted by the parliament as a whole. Indeed, some 37 bills have been rejected by the Senate. Thirty-seven pieces of legislation have been either directly rejected or passed with amendments that were unacceptable to the House of Representatives. And that does not include the 18 bills that we had to reintroduce into the House of Representatives and which had to go back a second time to the other place. The fact is that the Leader of the Opposition and the Liberal Party have the most obstructionist attitude in the Senate in three decades. Indeed, it is a fact that last year the Leader of the Opposition and the Liberal Party blocked four times as many bills as in any year for 30 years. That is what is occurring from those opposite.

I went into politics to make a difference. In 2007 the government promoted a program of making a positive agenda. Tories go into politics to block—particularly those opposite. They are only defined by what they oppose. In government, the current Leader of the Opposition ripped a billion dollars out of hospitals, he froze places for GPs, and now that he is in opposition he has been elected on a platform, in his own words, of simply opposing. He told 2GB on 11 January:

Now sure, come election time people are entitled to know what we would do differently but at this stage of the political cycle our job is to ferociously criticise and where necessary oppose the Government. I mean, if in doubt our job is to oppose.

PHI—oppose. Dental reform—oppose. Midwives—oppose. CPRS—oppose. Youth Allowance—oppose. Electoral reform—oppose. Paid paternity leave—oppose. NBN—oppose. Those opposite are simply led by the Dr No of Australian politics; they are simply defined by what they are opposed to. That shows how petty and how untrustworthy the Leader of the Opposition is—petty, untrustworthy and bloody-minded in his opposition to the reforms of this government.

Mr Hunt —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance. We also oppose pink batts.

The SPEAKER —The member for Flinders will leave the chamber for one hour, under standing order 94(a).

The member for Flinders then left the chamber.

The SPEAKER —The Leader of the House has the call. He will start to bring his answer to a conclusion.

Mr ALBANESE —Thank you, Mr Speaker. They did indeed oppose the economic stimulus plan; they did indeed oppose Building the Education Revolution. They opposed the increased spending for 14 roads; they opposed the rail safety program—they opposed the $1.2 billion to the ARTC; they opposed support for public housing; they opposed the tripling of the black spots program—

Mr Laming —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance. This question went specifically to the word ‘obstruction’ and not ‘opposition’. Legislation can only be obstructed by senators—

The SPEAKER —Order! The member will resume his seat.

Mr Laming interjecting—

The SPEAKER —The member will resume his seat.

Mr Laming interjecting—

The SPEAKER —The member will resume his seat.

Mr Laming interjecting—

The SPEAKER —The member will resume his seat.

Mr Laming interjecting—

The SPEAKER —I warn the member for Bowman. I call the Leader of the House.

Mr ALBANESE —Obstruction and opposition—they are the same thing, particularly when you look at those opposite. There are currently 51 pieces of legislation that have been carried by this House that are sitting over in the Senate waiting to be dealt with—51 pieces of legislation. This morning, when I debated the Manager of Opposition Business on Sky News and this issue came up, he said on the CPRS, ‘Why didn’t you negotiate with the Greens?’ Well, we negotiated in good faith and did a deal, in good faith, with the other major political party in this country. They walked away from it on the basis that the Leader of the Opposition was elected by his party on a platform of not standing for anything, of not worrying about policy but simply of opposing for opposition’s sake.

Mr Rudd —Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.