House debates

Thursday, 15 December 2022



9:03 am

Photo of Mark ButlerMark Butler (Hindmarsh, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Health and Aged Care) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the arrangement of business for this sitting being as follows:

(1) a Minister presenting the Treasury Laws Amendment (Energy Price Relief Plan) Bill 2022;

(2) following the Minister's second reading speech, debate continuing immediately;

(3) the time limits for the second reading debate being 10 minutes for the Minister and first Opposition speaker, and five minutes each for all other Members;

(4) the bill proceeding through all stages without interruption;

(5) the second reading debate concluding no later than 11.15 am, and questions being immediately put on any amendments moved to the motion for the second reading and on the second reading of the bill and any message from the Governor-General under standing order 147 being announced;

(6) if required, a consideration in detail stage of the bill, with all government amendments to be moved together, all opposition amendments to be moved together, and any crossbench Members' amendments to be moved as one set per Member, with:

(a) one question to be put on all government amendments;

(b) one question to be put on all opposition amendments;

(c) separate questions to be put on any sets of amendments moved by crossbench Members; and

(d) one question to be put that the bill [as amended] be agreed to;

(7) any question provided for under paragraph (6) being put after no more than 10 minutes of debate on each set of amendments, unless a Minister sets a further period of debate;

(8) at 12 noon, any remaining questions required to conclude consideration in detail being put with no further debate;

(9) when the bill has been agreed to, the question being put immediately on the third reading of the bill;

(10) following the third reading of the bill, a Minister moving leave of absence for all Members;

(11) following resolution of the leave of absence motion, a condolence motion being moved and debated on the deaths of Queensland Police Constables Rachel McCrow and Matthew Arnold, and Mr Alan Dare;

(12) at 1.30 pm, or when no further Members rise to speak, if earlier, provided that a message from the Senate has not been received in relation to the Treasury Laws Amendment (Energy Price Relief Plan) Bill 2022, the House suspending until the ringing of the bells;

(13) the condolence motion on the deaths of Queensland Police Constables Rachel McCrow and Matthew Arnold, and Mr Alan Dare, standing referred to the Federation Chamber;

(14) when received if the House is sitting, or upon resumption of the sitting after a suspension, any message from the Senate relating to the bill being considered, and no further business being considered, after which the House immediately adjourning until 10 am on Monday, 6 February 2023;

(15) the only business to be conducted during this sitting being as provided in this motion;

(16) standing orders 31 and 33 being suspended for this sitting; and

(17) any variation to this arrangement being made only on a motion moved by a Minister.

This motion will provide for the arrangement of business in the House for today's sitting. There will only be two items of business for today: the first, the Treasury Laws Amendment (Energy Price Relief Plan) Bill 2022, which the Treasurer will introduce immediately after the passing of this motion, if it passes; the second, as the Speaker has foreshadowed, a condolence motion relating to the brutal murders on Monday of Queensland police constables Rachel McCrow and Matthew Arnold, and Mr Alan Dare.

The proposed motion allows for debate on the energy price relief plan bill until midday today, which is the latest we can pass the bill in order for it to be before the Senate when the Senate begins sitting at 1 pm, as it is scheduled to do. I want to thank members of the House who have engaged so constructively with the government in relation to both the substantive legislation we are here to debate but also the procedural arrangements that are contained in this motion to facilitate passage of the bill and provide the Australian community with the price relief that it so desperately needs.

The arrangements in relation to the bill will be as follows. The Treasurer will introduce the bill. The second reading debate will continue immediately after the introduction of the bill. The Treasurer and the first opposition speaker will be given 10 minutes to speak. All other speakers will be given five minutes, to allow for as many speakers as we can get through in the allotted time. If the second reading debate hasn't concluded by 11.15 am, all remaining questions to complete the second reading will then be put.

If the second reading is agreed to, we will move immediately to consideration in detail, with amendments being moved and dealt with as follows: one block for the government, one block for the opposition and one block per crossbench member. The question will be put on each block of amendments after 10 minutes of debate on each block, and, if consideration in detail has not concluded by 12 midday, all remaining questions to complete the passage of the bill will be put.

As I've indicated, we will then move to a motion moved by the Prime Minister relating to the deaths of the young Queensland police constables Rachel McCrow and Matthew Arnold, as well as Mr Alan Dare. It's anticipated that that motion will be followed by the Leader of the Opposition, and other members will then be able to give statements to that motion until 1.30 pm, at which time the motion will be referred to the Federation Chamber for further statements when we come back next year.

When that motion has been dealt with at 1.30 pm, the House will then suspend until the ringing of the bells. The House will remain suspended while the Senate considers the energy price relief plan bill. If there are no Senate amendments to the bill, the House will resume after completion of the Senate debate and then immediately adjourn. If the senate does amend the bill, the House will resume to consider any Senate amendments to the bill and, after that, will then adjourn without debate.

We don't undertake this process lightly. It's not done lightly. It's done against the backdrop of the most serious global energy crisis the world has seen at least since the mid-1970s, an energy crisis driven by a brutal invasion by Russia of Ukraine, and an energy crisis that is playing out in every single economy on the face of the planet. We might, over the course of today or this motion, argue the political toss, but I think every single member in this House knows how hard this crisis is hitting our nation, hitting Australian households, hitting Australian manufacturers and hitting other Australian businesses. We have the clearest advice that, if the parliament does not act now, prices will climb even higher and households and businesses will suffer even more.

As members know full well, this parliament is convening to action a plan that was negotiated with state and territory governments exhaustively over many weeks and agreed last week at the National Cabinet meeting on Friday. It was agreed by all National Cabinet members, Liberal and Labor alike, as important and urgent, involving complementary action, particularly by the Queensland and New South Wales governments, one Labor and one Liberal, both containing the black-coal generators in the National Electricity Market, including action by the New South Wales parliament. It's a plan that the energy agencies have been involved in intimately and have advised all of us is needed urgently, particularly because the default market offer is in its final stages of preparation. The Australian community now rightly expects us to do our job and to deliver the plan that was agreed at National Cabinet.

The Manager of Opposition Business has put about a slightly different view over recent days. He says he wants a committee not to deliver the plan; he wants a committee to muse on this, to consider it further and maybe to return to it in February when, as we know, the default market offer will already be locked and loaded. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised, at least on this side of the House, given the former government failed to land a single energy plan from 22 different attempts. That will not be our approach. This plan has been worked through exhaustively, agreed by all state and territory governments, Labor and Liberal alike, and now it needs to be implemented. We cannot let the nation continue to be held hostage to the coalition's internal divisions on energy policy, which have paralysed the energy transition for a decade.

Recalling parliament and dealing with a bill in a single day is not usual. We understand that. The Prime Minister and his National Cabinet colleagues have stressed that this extraordinary global energy crisis requires extraordinary, determined and urgent action. But, as those opposite know, this procedure might be unusual, but it is far from unique. Last parliament, 19 different bills were introduced and passed through both houses of parliament in a single day. A number of them, admittedly, were related to the COVID response, and we supported that. But those opposite will remember that one of them dealt with that hoary old chestnut, a favourite of the coalition, the Australian Building and Construction Commission. It was introduced and passed through both houses of parliament in a single day. In the parliament before that, four bills were dealt with—introduced and passed through both houses of parliament—in a single day, as the Prime Minister reminds me, one of them dealing with strawberry contamination. But, interestingly, one of those bills, in 2019, was also about energy assistance. That was a bill to introduce one-off payments to help concession card holders and pensioners with energy prices. That was not to deal with a once-in-a-generation global energy crisis, mind you; instead, it was to get something through in time for the member for Cook to call a general election—always playing politics, always dealing with these things for partisan advantage instead of the national interest.

Australia needs this bill passed urgently. The Australian community expects the parliament to do its job and to implement the Australian government's side of the bargain struck at National Cabinet last week. This motion will ensure that we do just that.


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