Wednesday, 8 August 2007
Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Testing) Legislation
At the request of the Deputy Leader of the House, I move the motion relating to the suspension of standing and sessional orders for the consideration of the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Testing) Bill 2007, the terms of which—
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I have a copy of the Notice Paper. Notice was submitted by the Deputy Leader of the House, Mr McGauran, in whose name it appears. I was wondering whether or not a reason could be given to the honourable members as to why Mr McGauran, having submitted this notice of motion, is not in the House to move it.
At the request of the Deputy Leader of the House, I move:
- so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended in relation to proceedings on the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Testing) Bill 2007 such that, at the conclusion of the second reading debate, not including a Minister speaking in reply, or at 1 p.m. on Wednesday 8 August 2007, whichever is the earlier, a Minister be called to sum up the second reading debate and thereafter, without delay, the immediate question before the House be put, then any question or questions necessary to complete the remaining stages of the Bill be put without amendment or debate; and
- any variation to this arrangement be made only by a motion moved by a Minister.
Labor oppose this, Mr Speaker. As I understand it, no notice has been given to us. The government is holding this parliament in contempt. It is abusing every process known to reasonable decision making. Yesterday we had to debate 500 pages of legislation, 300 pages of explanatory memoranda and 200 pages on appropriations—1,000 pages with 24 hours notice to consider them. Later today the Water Bill will be introduced, a bill which runs, as I understand it, to something like 300 pages. That is something the government announced on 25 January. It still has not been able to conclude agreements with the states but it wants this parliament to ram the legislation through—presumably in expeditious time, when we just got the bill yesterday, as I understand it.
Now debate on a bill that has been on the Notice Paper for some time is to be guillotined without any notice. This is a bill which many members in this House have a real interest in because they represent constituencies that contain a lot of people from non-English-speaking backgrounds, people who are interested in the future of citizenship in this country. Where is this parliament going, Mr Speaker? This is the point that we are making. There is no consultation. This is a government that cannot even consult with the states on water and now it will not consult with the opposition about procedures. Some consultation, Minister—well done! This was a circumstance in which you were lauding being on the eve of agreement with the Victorians only some three weeks ago.
You know who was the stunt? The Prime Minister was the stunt, sending that letter to Premier Bracks and—again, without any warning—pulling the plug, saying the government were going to act unilaterally, just as they pulled the plug on Tasmania in its consideration of where public hospitals go, just as they are intervening in local government in Queensland and just as they have intervened in Eden-Monaro to prop up the member against a decision taken legitimately by the New South Wales government.
This is a government out of control. This is a government abusing the states, picking a fight with the states at every opportunity, because it cannot get its own house in order. It is not getting this House in order; it is treating this House with contempt. This motion is just the latest manifestation of it, Mr Speaker. This is a disgrace and the Labor Party opposes it. No wonder this government is such a rabble. No wonder it is getting internal—
Original question put:
That the motion (Mr Hockey’s) be agreed to.