Mar 15, 2012

Road Safety Remuneration Bill 2011, Road Safety Remuneration (Consequential Amendments and Related Provisions) Bill 2011

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (13:36): I rise to support the amendments currently before the House. This legislation is vital for road safety. It is vital for those truck drivers who carry our freight between cities and within cities. It is also vital for other road users.

I find it extraordinary, frankly, that the previous speaker said that he could not see a causal link between wage rates and conditions and safety on the road. I ask him to read National road safety—eyes on the road ahead: inquiry into national road safety—a June 2004 report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Transport and Regional Services, then chaired by the member for Hinkler. This was a bipartisan issue and that committee treated it as such when the Howard government established that inquiry. I was a member of that committee in my first term of parliament.

This is an issue which has the support of not just the Transport Workers Union but significant players in the industry, including, dare I say it, the most significant trucker in this country, Lindsay Fox. This has the support of those businesses which operate in accordance with law and which operate in the interests of their workforce as well as other road users. This has the support of other road users and motoring organisations. This has the support of all those who have been impacted by road deaths involving heavy vehicles. In 2010, fatalities and injuries cost the community $2.7 billion.

Yet what we see before this parliament today is not just opposition from the ‘no-alition’, but filibustering of the debate and abuse of the processes of this parliament. Opposition members have got up and just tried to take up the time of this parliament.

Mr Buchholz: We only got the amendments this morning.

Mr ALBANESE: Even the shadow minister did not say that, mate. You were not even here to listen to the shadow minister when he outlined the no-alition’s position on it. You were not even here. But the opposition bring people in, one after the other—the member for Bradfield is a serial offender on these issues—to waste time. You can waste time, but it will not change the outcome.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker Scott: prior to the Leader of House coming into the chamber, when a previous person was in the chair, again and again people were asked to return to debate the specific terms of the amendments. The Leader of the House is not doing that.

Mr Shorten: You argued against that.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: And I was ruled against, so you will be also.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): I will decide, Member for Mackellar. The Leader of the House is aware of the standing orders and I understand that he is speaking to the amendments as well as closing the debate.

Mr ALBANESE: No, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am happy to be here later today, after five o’clock—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The minister does not have the call. The minister is aware of the amendments before the chamber. The Leader of the House will address his comments to the amendments we are currently debating.

Mr ALBANESE: I am certainly doing that, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am also referring to the debate, including the comments of the previous speaker, who spoke about the process with respect to the amendments and the process which is occurring here. This process is an abuse of the parliament. The coalition is not attempting to debate the substance of the issues; it is attempting to delay a vote.

Truck drivers have waited a long time for justice on this issue. When I spoke to Alan Jones this morning—another big supporter of this reform—he was certainly conscious of that fact. So are many other people who are in touch with truck drivers—Ray Hadley and other advocates in the media who know what the impact of these issues has been. That is why the amendments should be supported and why the legislation should be supported. (Extension of time granted)I am pleased to see that those opposite have run out of steam on these issues. These amendments clarify the legislation before the House, legislation which addresses an issue which has been debated since I arrived in this chamber in 1996. Sixteen years has been a long time to wait for this legislation and for these amendments.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker: I refer you to page 366 of House of Representatives Practice where it says, about consideration in detail:

When a bill is considered, by leave, as a whole, the debate is widened to include any part of the bill. However, discussion must relate to the clauses of the bill, and it is not in order to make a general second reading speech.

It also says in Practice that the rules of debate with regard to debating amendments and the bill as a whole are the same. Therefore I ask you to ask the Leader of the House to return to the subject of the amendments.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Mackellar has made her point of order and has pointed out the relevant standing orders.

Mr ALBANESE: We see again why the member for Mackellar, with her lack of knowledge of the standing orders and the way they operate in practice, never got to be the Speaker. The fact is—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Leader of the House will not reflect on a member of this chamber.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: I would ask him to withdraw.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The minister will not reflect on another member and will withdraw that reference to the member for Mackellar.

Mr ALBANESE: Which reference, Mr Deputy Speaker? I said she never got to be the Speaker. That is a fact.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: You will withdraw.

Mr ALBANESE: I withdraw if she is that sensitive, Mr Deputy Speaker.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, just withdraw unreservedly.

Mr ALBANESE: I withdraw. I understand the embarrassment there, Mr Deputy Speaker. This is important legislation and these are important amendments. They should be supported by the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! In accordance with standing order 43, the debate is interrupted. The debate may be resumed at a later hour this day.