House debates

Wednesday, 24 February 2016


Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016; Second Reading

5:10 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) Share this | Hansard source

The resolution that is actually before the House is to suspend standing order 148. Standing order 148 says that when you have a committee inquiry, as in a committee inquiry that involves the House of Representatives, which a joint standing committee does, then you should probably get the result of that inquiry before you move to consideration in detail. The whole point of the committee inquiry is that you examine a bill in detail and come up with recommendations to improve the legislation. But what is extraordinary here is that of all legislation of just about anything you can think of where something might have unintended consequences, a change to the way that the Senate will be composed is just that. Yet what have we had for this process? We have had a dirty deal between the coalition and the Greens political party. They are sitting up there and voting in favour of this being rammed through on the second reading—the new marriage of convenience—in order to advantage the Greens political party and the coalition. The Greens, who lecture from on high about proper processes and accountability, are prepared to do a deal. Their spokesperson, Senator Rhiannon is the person who believes in only one term for any MP, except herself. She has been there for decades, and with the increased likelihood of a double-d as a result this legislation, she, as the only sitting Greens senator from New South Wales, will be number one on the ticket in a double-d election and will need one out of 12 rather than one out of six. Talk about a conflict of interest! She is the person responsible for the Greens on this issue.

Let there be no mistake: with the amendments we will move about proper disclosure of donations we will see exactly where the so-called party of principle ends up on this. This is a disgraceful trashing of democratic process in this chamber—the suspension of this standing order, which is there for a very good reason. It is there to ensure that the proper processes of this parliament take place. They are important for policy legislation but to do this for legislation that is about affecting the make-up of future parliaments, not just once, not just a one-off, but for decades into the future, that will impact on the composition of the Senate of Australia is quite frankly extraordinary.

We have proper processes here. We have legislation introduced on a Wednesday or a Thursday, it gets adjourned, you come back the next week and you then have the party meetings and the crossbenchers can get briefings on it if they want them. You then have a debate the week after that and you have proper processes. What we are seeing here is legislation being introduced on a Monday afternoon after going through the coalition party room, and it is legislation that they have to amend. If you want evidence of why it is that you need a proper committee process, it is that they introduced legislation two days ago and they have to fix it up already. It did not last the week and yet there are six amendment so far to their own legislation that has not lasted 48 hours. Well, there are real consequences behind this and it is absolutely extraordinary.

This legislation does not relate to the JSCEM report that was done and open. This legislation relates to meetings that took place behind closed doors between the Greens and the coalition to advantage the Greens and the coalition at the expense of Independents and others in terms of who might want to put themselves forward. That is why this process, which is outrageous, should be rejected. That is why it is extraordinary that this is going to be rammed through the House of Representatives and through the Senate with the support of the Greens. This is the worst decision since the Greens helped to knock over a price on carbon in 2009. (Time expired)


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