House debates

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


Consideration of Legislation

4:43 pm

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Finance) Share this | Hansard source

If you want me to rev it up into a bigger speech I am happy to, but I think we can just get through the issues on this one. We should have a situation where people have the opportunity to put their view. It is as simple as that. The rush that the government is going through at the moment in wanting to make sure that this bill can go through, is so it can get to the Senate. If the Leader of the House were to walk 100 metres to the Senate, he would see that it is not sitting today. It is not sitting tomorrow. It will be three weeks until it comes back. There is no problem at all in allowing members of parliament to have their say.

But I must say that the thing I find interesting—I may even say amusing—about the motion that the Leader of the House has brought forward is that he has insisted that the only person to give the summing-up will be the Prime Minister. He is actually moving that the person who represents the minister for workplace relations in this House will not be allowed to do the summing-up on the bill. Given that that is himself, I find that a moment of honesty that really explains what sort of term, what sort of kick-off, the Leader of the House has had.

He has gone from the point of day after day burying his head in his hands and saying, 'It's not me; it's the people around me,' to now saying that maybe it is him and then putting in writing on the Notice Paper and now moving in the parliament that under no circumstances is the minister representing the minister for workplace relations going to be allowed to deliver the summing-up. I can only suggest the determination that the only person who would be allowed to talk would be the Prime Minister is probably an idea that came from the Prime Minister. For the Leader of the House, who has been humiliated week after week in this place, to now decide, 'May as well do the humiliation myself,' is a step I did not see coming, but that is what is contained within the motion before the House.

This is another attempt for the government to stifle the parliament from doing its job. There cannot be a rush in getting legislation to the Senate at a time when the Senate is not on. The argument that everybody has had the opportunity to speak on this debate is a direct affront to every member of parliament who was elected for the first time at the last election. Extraordinarily, it was a double-dissolution election on this bill—and, very specifically, they will claim there is a mandate for the government for this bill to go ahead—and members of parliament who have come into this place for the first time, campaigning either for or against this very issue, and are not going to be allowed to say a word.

I have to say that, if the government thought that this debate was going well for them, they would not be moving this motion. If they thought it suited them to be talking about this issue—to have their backbenchers up making speeches and sending them out to the electorates and getting the story up in the media—they would not be moving this motion. There is no procedural reason to do it. There is no legal reason to do it in terms of getting a bill through the other place. The only reason to do this is that an item that they thought was going to win them a thumping majority at the election turned out pretty badly for them and they lost a series of seats in it. If they thought this was a winning argument, the motion before us would never have been moved.

What we have is a Leader of the House who has decided that best he carries by resolution that under no circumstances is he allowed to talk, that under no circumstances are any of the new members allowed to talk and that only the Prime Minister will be allowed to, so that we can get this bill out of the way so that it can go nowhere for three weeks. That is what the Leader of the House has done. The bit about him not being allowed to talk, I sort of have some sympathy with—he sort of nearly gets me there. But I have to say on this bill: don't put something forward as a double-dissolution trigger if you don't want it to be debated in the parliament. If you were going to put something forward as a double-dissolution trigger you would think the government would be willing to have a debate on it.


No comments