May 2, 2016

Water Amendment (Review Implementation and Other Measures) Bill 2015, Tax Laws Amendment (New Tax System for Managed Investment Trusts) Bill 2015, Income Tax Rates Amendment (Managed Investment Trusts) Bill 2015, Medicare Levy Amendment (Attribution Managed Investment Trusts) Bill 2015, Income Tax (Attribution Managed Investment Trusts—Offsets) Bill 2015, Social Services Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2015, Australian Crime Commission Amendment (National Policing Information) Bill 2015, Australian Crime Commission (National Policing Information Charges) Bill 2015, Registration of Deaths Abroad Amendment Bill 2016, Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2016 Measures No. 1) Bill 2016, Corporations Amendment (Crowd-sourced Funding) Bill 2015, Criminal Code Amendment (Firearms Trafficking) Bill 2015, Parliamentary Entitlements Legislation Amendment Bill 2014

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:03): I rise to speak to this motion that has been moved by the Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation. I indicate that we will not be opposing the motion, but this is quite an extraordinary occurrence. This request is a direct result of the decision by the government to prorogue the parliament; we are pretending that this is a new parliament. In the motion put forward by the assistant minister, he indicated that this motion was resuming debate on legislation considered in the last session of parliament. It is the same session. It is the same thing. Something called an election determines when sessions occur. This is still the 44th Parliament, and yet what we had a fortnight ago—a pretence that it was a new session—was a direct result of the government’s failure to manage this parliament, let alone manage the nation. We had the Governor-General open the parliament and give a speech to the parliament indicating—as is his task as the representative of our head of state, who remains the Queen of the Commonwealth of Australia—what the government’s priorities would be for this session of parliament, as if it were new. People might recall that there were two bills mentioned, but one of them was not even debated by the parliament. It got dropped off and they did not bother to pretend that that was the case. If you cannot run the parliament you cannot run the nation, and this is a government that has shown itself incapable of running the parliament.

The reason this motion is before the parliament is to give the Senate something to do. At one stage during the last fortnight we had the extraordinary circumstance where there was only one bill before the House of Representatives—my bill supporting a high-speed rail authority, which will be moved formally later today. There were the extraordinary circumstances of the proroguing of parliament and the listing of two bills, one of which was not even debated, and now the Senate has to have bills continued for debate, as if none of this had occurred. This is extraordinary, just as it is extraordinary that it appears we will rush to an election in order for the government to avoid scrutiny of its budget measures and avoid the normal processes that would take place: Senate estimates over a two-week period and a full and proper debate between now and 1 July. These are the normal processes, but, because of the government’s desperation, its lack of an agenda and its lack of a sense of purpose, it simply cannot even sustain itself in the normal three-year term, which I think most Australians would regard as being too short as it is. Certainly, we on this side of the House support four-year terms for the parliament.

This motion says a lot about this government. I was Leader of the House in the minority parliament from 2010 to 2013. With respect to my friend the member for Sturt, this mob would not make it to lunchtime, let alone to question time, on day one if they had 70 votes out of 150. They have 90, and they still cannot manage the parliament. So we have this extraordinary circumstance, due to the extraordinary generosity of my colleague and friend the member for Watson, the Manager of Opposition Business, allowing this to occur. Otherwise the Senate would be sitting over there on what they perhaps would call ‘a long morning tea break’, because there would be nothing before the Senate to actually debate—just like after the parliament was prorogued and brought back the Senate had to break not once but twice because it had absolutely nothing before it in terms of business. These are extraordinary circumstances that simply were not considered when the Prime Minister showed how clever he was by pretending that the parliament was new. It is not new. This is an old government with no agenda except a repeat of the 2014 budget.

We will not oppose this. Frankly, if this was the opposition from 2010 to 2013, or the opposition at any time that the member for Warringah was the Manager of Opposition Business, there is no way that this would have been allowed. This would have been blocked. There probably would have been suspension motions on the basis of this absurd proposition in order for the parliament to function. But, because we in Labor are responsible, we do take our obligations seriously and we are not political opportunists like those opposite, Labor will not be opposing this resolution.

Question agreed to.