Sep 13, 2011

Question without notice – Carbon Pricing

Mr FITZGIBBON (Hunter—Chief Government Whip) (14:58): My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, and the Leader of the House. Will the minister update the House on the government’s plan to facilitate an open and transparent parliamentary debate on the clean energy bills and the opportunity for all willing members to participate? What obstacles might frustrate this participation?

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (14:59): Indeed, prior to question time, the Prime Minister, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, the Treasurer, and the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs introduced legislation into this parliament to ensure that Australia could move to a clean energy future. We have done that in a way which is transparent. We gave notice of it a week ago. We gave notice yesterday of the process that would be proceeded with, and there are motions on notice that will be considered this afternoon in order to facilitate that process.

We have indicated that discussion on the legislation will begin tomorrow. Tomorrow, it is the first item and we will go through all of this week and all of next week. We have said that we are prepared to sit extra hours, an offer that at this stage is being opposed by those opposite. They say that we do not have enough time to debate the bills but they are opposed to sitting extra hours. I indicate to the House that we will be bringing forward resolutions to the House that will facilitate extra hours, and those opposite, if they wish to oppose them, can do so. But they certainly cannot have it both ways, and the Manager of Opposition Business confirms his hypocrisy by saying that they will oppose these bills.

We have given one month’s notice until the votes will be determined finally on 12 October—one month. This compares with eight days that they gave for the Work Choices legislation, where member after member, including me, was excluded from participating in that debate. Indeed, we had an exposure draft of the bills released on 28 July, with 300 submissions received. The MPCCC had 1,300 submissions received. There have been 35 parliamentary reviews in 19 years and a range of expert reviews, including the Shergold review, the Garnaut review, and the CPRS green and white papers. So we have had a lot of debate. But it is now time to decide. Do we go forward into the future to a clean energy future, or not?

Of course we know that those opposite have one tactic, which is to oppose. Those opposite have one tactic, which is to destroy everything that they touch. Today we have seen their behaviour in this House, which is one thing. But it has moved up another step. Some of those who have been escorted out of the gallery had lunch with a number of the members prior to today. The members opposite are now not just inciting their backbench; they are inciting the gallery with their little people’s revolt.

Honourable members interjecting—

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister will return to the question.

Mr ALBANESE: There is no decency from those opposite. I notice that the member for Indi is not here. She is probably outside my office, as she was two weeks ago with the banner ‘Tolerance is our Demise’. All the outrageous slogans and activities that were there were flown up at taxpayers’ expense in order to engage in that sort of grubby behaviour.

This government is determined to provide every opportunity to have debate. We are not frightened of a debate about ideas. We know that on the science, we will listen to the scientists; on the economics, we will listen to the economists; and we know what those opposite have said about the carbon tax. The Leader of the Opposition says that if it comes in, ‘take it off and resist to the death this thing coming in’. That is their position. They say they want more time, but how much time does it take to say no, no, no! (Time expired)