Thursday, 21 November 2013
Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013; Dissent from Ruling
I do not wish to detain the House at great length, because the debate management motion that I had passed earlier in the debate provides for the consideration in detail to begin once the second reading has been carried and you have stated that the House will now consider the bill in detail. The opposition are in fact denying themselves the opportunity to consider the bills in detail by moving this dissent motion. Very simply, the ruling that you have made, Madam Speaker, is entirely consistent with every other ruling of a similar nature to do with the capabilities of the House to amend or change legislation introduced by the executive. It is very clear in standing order 179(a):
Only a Minister may initiate a proposal to impose, increase, or decrease a tax or duty, or change the scope of any charge.
It is very straightforward. It is there because the government needs to initiate money bills in the House of Representatives. And any amendment to try to change money bills is outside the capability of anybody other than someone from the executive. The opposition know this, because we had these debates quite routinely when we were in opposition before 7 September. The opposition know this, and this dissent motion, along with their amendment, is a try-on. It would be quite unprecedented for you to have ruled in any other way than that the House is incapable of dealing with this particular amendment, and you did—very generously, I thought—give the opposition the opportunity to try to move another amendment in consideration in detail which did not offend the standing orders or the Constitution of Australia, which makes it clear that only the executive can initiate money bills.
For the benefit of the House, and for many of the new members, why is that so? It is so because the history of the Westminster tradition is one of civil war in the 17th century which caused such great ructions in Britain that the parliament that replaced the civil war only allowed the executive to initiate money bills to make it clear between the Crown and the parliament who was responsible for what. We have inherited that Westminster system; therefore, it would be quite improper for you to have ruled in any other way than that the opposition cannot initiate changes to a money bill. The member for Port Adelaide made it very clear that that is exactly what his amendment seeks to do. I quote him. He said that his amendment 'changes the way the charge is collected and changes the timing of the act'—in other words, it extends the scope of the bill. That is your quotation from your speech. The Manager of Opposition Business in the House did it as well, throughout his contribution. He kept repeating that his amendment extended the scope and that he believes that we are capable of doing that in the House of Representatives today on a motion initiated by the opposition.
When we were in opposition it was very clear that only the executive could initiate such changes and it is very important that the House upholds the standards that have been set over the course of our parliament. I could go on at great length, but I want to get on with the consideration in detail, and, as a consequence, I move:
That the question be put.