Thursday, 7 July 2011
Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders
That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for Sturt moving the following motion forthwith—That following the completion of the discussion of a matter of public importance, items of government business that have been scheduled for consideration and the transaction of any business necessary in connection with messages from the Senate:
(1) the sitting be suspended until 10.00 am on Monday, 11 July 2011;
(2) when the sitting is resumed on Monday 11 July 2011:
(a) the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Minister for Climate Change each be permitted to make statements for periods not exceeding 15 minutes to outline to the House the details of the Government’s plans for the introduction and operation of a carbon tax;
(b) the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of The Nationals each be permitted to make statements for periods not exceeding 15 minutes in connection with the statements that have been made by the Prime Minister and other Ministers; and
(c) other Members be permitted to make statements for periods not exceeding 10 minutes on the same matter, the call being alternated in a manner that permits government, opposition and non-aligned Members to speak in accordance with their representation in the House; and
(d) from 2.00 pm until 3.30 pm the Prime Minister and the other Ministers who are Members of the House attend in the Chamber and answer questions in relation to the Government’s plans for the introduction and operation of a carbon tax, in accordance with the rules set out in standing order 98 to 104 so far as they are applicable.
It is vital that standing orders be suspended, because we are in the absolutely absurd position in this parliament that the government announced on Monday that they would announce details of a carbon tax the following Sunday—
This is the most cowardly government in the history of the Australian parliament and it is absolutely vital that the standing orders be suspended so that we can consider the impact of this carbon tax on the Australian people. This government is attempting to escape scrutiny at every turn. This government is showing cowardice in the face of the Australian people and that is why it is vital that the standing orders be suspended.
We have a situation where small businesses are struggling. We have a situation where the Australian people are facing massive increases in the cost of living. On top of that, we have a government proposing to introduce a carbon tax that is going to impose a massive impost on the Australian people. It is an impost that Australian families cannot afford to bear. It is an impost that this government did not put to the Australian people at the last election. We had a situation where the Prime Minister said, 'There would be no carbon tax under a government that I lead,' yet just weeks into her prime ministership after that election she went back on that solemn promise to the Australian people. How can the Australian people have faith in this Prime Minister? How can the Australian people trust anything she says? That is why standing orders must be suspended.
It is vital that they be suspended so that the parliament can sit on Monday and consider this very important issue. Why are the government running from scrutiny? Why are the government failing to face the parliament on this issue? Why are they being so gutless as to wait until there is a major break in parliament before releasing the important details of the carbon tax, a carbon tax that needs the immediate scrutiny of the Australian people?
We urgently need to consider the impact of this carbon tax. We have a very rag-tag association with the Independents, who are pushing this. Every other member in this House—even the members opposite—does not want a carbon tax. The members opposite see the folly of this but the Prime Minister, because of her alliance with the Greens and because of her dependence on Bob Brown—the real Prime Minister of this country—is actually forced to introduce this carbon tax.
We need a question time so that we can consider these issues before the House so that the parliament can properly scrutinise this carbon tax, so that the parliament can properly scrutinise the important issue that is before it. We have the situation where this is the biggest economic change in the history of this country and they are running from scrutiny. They have been running from scrutiny for days. We had a situation where the Prime Minister was so gutless that earlier in the week she said she would announce the details of the carbon tax, but she would not announce them until such time as the parliament had risen. That is not acceptable. It is absolutely not acceptable—that we would have the parliament rising before proper scrutiny of this important matter.
The Australian people deserve better. They deserve a real Prime Minister. They do not deserve Bob Brown and they certainly do not deserve the current Prime Minister, a Prime Minister who has proved to be running an incompetent government, a Prime Minister who has proved to be denying the opportunity for this parliament to scrutinise this very important issue, an issue which is front and centre in the minds of the Australian people. We see in the media report after report of businesses facing great difficulty. We see reports of families struggling with the cost of living. It is real and this government is in denial. It is in denial of the needs of the Australian people. It is in denial of the needs of Australian families for relief from cost-of-living pressures.
We have a government that is intent on pursuing its own interests. We have a government that is intent on avoiding scrutiny and that is why the standing orders need to be suspended. We need the parliament to resume on Monday so the Prime Minister can face the music and be duly scrutinised in a timely matter—not in a few weeks time, but on Monday. The Australian people deserve better than a Prime Minister who is running from scrutiny at every turn, a Prime Minister who is failing to give parliament the opportunity to properly consider this very important economic change, a change that is going to have widespread repercussions for the whole economy. (Time expired)
I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. While the member for Cowper was speaking, we had such outrageous outbursts from the other side that it was really worse than question time. I draw your attention to the fact that no-one was named or warned while that entire outburst was going on. It was worse than any question time.
Mr Speaker, that point of order from the member for Dawson was just too much. We should oppose this suspension of standing orders because we want to get on with the business of government. Those opposite are struggling for relevance so much that not only have they sought to disrupt half of the question times through suspensions of standing orders but also they are now seeking to suspend standing orders while ordinary government business is being conducted. We are about to have before the parliament a series of business matters including committee reports, important health legislation moved by the minister for health—
Order! The time allotted for the debate has expired. The question is that the motion moved by the member for Sturt that standing and sessional orders be suspended be agreed to.
The House divided. [11:03]
(The Speaker—Mr Harry Jenkins)