Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Banking and Financial Services
by leave—I move:
That the House:
(1) notes that:
(a) Scandals in the banking and financial services industry have led to:
(i) retirees having their retirement savings gutted;
(ii) families being rorted;
(iii) small business owners losing everything;
(iv) life insurance policy holders being denied justice; and
(v) agricultural assets being improperly foreclosed;
(b) despite several inquiries, new powers, new resources, and a Financial Ombudsman Service, the rorts and the rip offs continue;
(c) it is clear from the breadth and scope of the allegations that the problems in this industry go beyond any one bank, type of financial institution or group of receivers; and
(d) Labor, Greens, crossbench, Liberal and National parliamentarians have supported a thorough investigation of the culture and practices within the financial services industry through a Royal Commission which is the only forum with the coercive powers and broad jurisdiction necessary to properly perform this investigation; and
(2) therefore, calls on the Government to listen to the many victims of banking and financial scandals who are calling for the immediate establishment of a Royal Commission.
Australians have actually found something that this Prime Minister stands for: protecting big banks. The Prime Minister and his coalition are running a protection racket to protect the big banks of Australia from the scrutiny and accountability that Australians want to give them. He is putting Australian banks ahead of the Australians who use them. Or, in other words, you can take Malcolm Turnbull out of the investment bank but you cannot take the investment bank out of Malcolm Turnbull.
There are problems in our banking sector. Every Australian uses a bank. Every Australian relies on the integrity of the banking sector. Labor wants the strongest possible banking sector meeting the highest possible standards. We have seen a string of scandals and rip-offs and rorts, and all we get are smirks and protection conduct from the front bench of the Turnbull government. There have been thousands denied life insurance payments, elderly Australians robbed of their retirement savings, small investors ripped off by predatory lending and business loans forged and manipulated.
This is the story of one person I met who went to his bank seeking a loan to buy an investment property. The application form was doctored to increase his income and assets, and rent on the property was factored in even though it was not built. By any honest standard this loan should never have been approved, but it was. When he asked to review the terms of this loan he was told, 'Oh, the documents are unavailable.' In the last five years, this Australian has barely made his interest payments and no-one at the bank takes any responsibility. There are tens of thousands of Australians with similar stories: the stories of CommBank and life insurance, where a claim for a heart attack was rejected because it was the wrong sort of heart attack—outrageous!
These are not isolated incidents; there is a systemic culture of crooked behaviour. And what is the latest revelation? ASIC is investigating rate rigging—the bank-bill swap-rate fixing scandal. What this practically means is that Australians are paying a higher interest rate on their mortgage and getting a lower interest rate on their savings. Every Australian uses a bank, but too many Australians are being used by their bank.
The government knows there is a problem. We have Mr Turnbull, the warrior of the lunchtime lecture, head down to the 199th anniversary of Westpac—long-time shareholder, first-time critic! We are weighing up the royal commission; there have been many calls—
Mr Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition says he wants to have a civil House, but he is still not calling the Prime Minister by his title in the House. He needs to do so.
Mr Shorten interjecting—
Mr Burke interjecting—
The Leader of the Opposition does not have the call. The Manager of Opposition Business will cease interjecting. The point that the Leader of the House makes is right. In the last week of the last parliament—in fact, even in the very last speech of the last parliament—this standing order was breached. Members will be referred to by their correct titles or I will take action on both sides.
If we cannot call him by his name, the Prime Minister, the lunchtime warrior, gave Westpac a lecture—wow, didn't that change their ways? We listened more carefully to what the Prime Minister said than the big banks did. The next day we said, 'Even if the Prime Minister says there is a problem in the culture, enough is enough.'
The final straw which tipped the back of the case in favour of the royal commission was delivered by none other than the gentlemen sitting opposite me. It is not just Mr Turnbull, the current Prime Minister, who has acknowledged—
I am more polite about the Prime Minister than half of his backbench. He said:
We have to acknowledge there have been too many troubling incidents over recent times for them simply to be dismissed.
Let me repeat the golden words of our Prime Minister:
We have to acknowledge there have been too many troubling incidents over recent times for them simply to be dismissed.
To be fair, it is not just the Prime Minister in the coalition who has been calling out the banks. There is also the member for Leichhardt.
Mr Pyne interjecting—
I welcome the Prime Minister’s recognition of problems within the sector—
but the member for Leichhardt went on:
but an apology from the Big Banks and a commitment not to do it again in the future is not enough.
I believe we need to go further—we need a full Royal Commission into the profit-driven and immoral activities of the Big Banks …
He said that ruling out a royal commission was a captain's call. We also had the member for Cowper say:
I think it is definitely something that should be considered.
Whilst I do not often quote this gentleman, I will on this occasion. The member for Dawson tweeted:
We need a royal commission into the banks. Their treatment of farmers is appalling.
And, of course, there is Senator Williams, who I respect greatly:
The more I go along in this job, the more I see the evidence and the clear evidence in the actual weighting of a royal commission, because there's so much wrongdoing going on we need to get to the bottom of it.
No less than eight members of this cowardly government have previously called for a royal commission, and I am confident that there are many more who now support this move.
What is the case for the royal commission? We just cannot leave it to ASIC, despite what the government said. We need a royal commission. Let me go through the scandal. Whilst one does not presume to be a predictor of the future, let me describe the last few scandals and let's have a guess if it will happen again. The journalists and whistleblowers expose the scandal and there is a public outcry that follows. Maybe even some of the brave hearts opposite are outraged, with their crocodile tears. But then it is characterised as an isolated incident—mid-tier rogue sort of gunmen going off on their own—and not the conduct of the whole bank. There are heartfelt promises that it will never happen again. Perhaps there might even be a special inquiry by ASIC, APRA or a government-appointed panel. And do you know what happens a few months later, Mr Speaker? We do it all again because the banks do not respect the government. They are not worried by the government's calls for action because they know that with this mob in power nothing will ever happen.
What we need is real action. Australians are sick and tired of the scandals being investigated after the harm and the damage is done. They are sick of the phoney apologies and they are sick of the speeding fines that this government issues to the banks. We need public scrutiny. The systemic problems of a royal commission require public scrutiny. Since 2009 at least 111 bankers, planners and advisers have been quietly sacked from their companies or reported to ASIC for misconduct. That is more than one a month. Australians do not know what led to these sackings or what any internal investigations uncovered afterwards.
As Chris Bowen and I have said, Labor has some clear initial objectives for this royal commission. We want to know the following: (1) how widespread instances of illegal and unethical behaviour are within Australia's financial services industry—how widespread; (2) how do Australia's financial services institutions treat their duty of care to their customers; (3) how do the culture, ethical standards and business structures of Australian financial services institutions affect the behaviour of these institutions; (4) whether Australia's regulators are really equipped to identify and prevent illegal and unethical behaviour; and (5) the comparable international experience with similar financial services industry misconduct and best practice responses to those incidents. And, of course, the commission would need to consider other events that may come to light in the course of investigating the above.
Simply put, the case for supporting this resolution, and a royal commission into the banks, is that illegal and unethical behaviour within the industry is about culture. Consumer protection and duty of care is about customers. Culture, ethical standards and business structures impact on behaviour. It is about incentives. It is about the powers of the regulator policing the sector.
These problems are too big for business as usual. And, in many ways, the government has accepted that there is a problem. Remember their ever-evolving and deteriorating position: when we called for it before, Mr Turnbull went down, spoke to Westpac, said there are problems but then did nothing. That is business as usual for this chap and this government. So we have the Westpac lecture and nothing happens. Then, before the election, they say, 'Well, we don't need a banking royal commission. The regulator's got all the power it needs.' Then, after the election, all of a sudden we discover that there is an even bigger problem, and maybe we do not have the regulator.
What solution do these desperate people on the other side, running a protection racket for banks, come up with? They say, 'Let's set up a Liberal-controlled House of Representatives committee, with less power—
Mr Coleman interjecting—
With all respect to the member for Banks, they are the government for banks, so there was very little concern there. The point about it—and now we have had a few of the breakaways in the coalition say, 'Actually, there's such a problem going on that we will skip the royal commission. We'll set up a whole new court to deal with the problems.' You get a sense here that the government will do anything and everything, say anything and everything, to avoid a royal commission into banks.
Now, I would like the government just to subside today and give in but they will not. This is one of those curious events in Australian politics: we have won the argument, and only the government is too dumb to realise that they are backing a loser by opposing the royal commission. What we have found in the search though—and this is the good news about the government—is that the great search in the last 12 months found one thing that this Prime Minister stands for. And it has not been easy; we know that he holds a position for at least a day and a half and either his backbench rebel or work out that it is an incompetent bungling, or we make the case and he retreats. But full points to the member for Wentworth: there is one thing that he stands for—and I admire you for at least standing for something, because that is not the normal practice! You are willing to fight, fight and fight for the banks.
Mr Pyne interjecting—
Sure, I can talk through the Chair: it does not change the truth of what I am saying!
What we have found is that there is one thing he will stand for: the banks. You have to love the form of this government. Only the government could think that it is a good idea to give a multi-billion dollar tax cut to the big banks—that was in the Governor-General's address. Fantastic! NAB, Westpac, CommBank, ANZ: they were rapt with the last election result. Come in, spinner: $7.4 billion tax cut. Malcolm Turnbull: best friend the banks will ever have in this place, I have no doubt.
The member for McEwen will cease interjecting! The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The member for McEwen will cease interjecting. He is the Second Deputy Speaker. We are going to start this parliament in a different way to the way it finished in the last week. He is the Second Deputy Speaker; he has special responsibilities. The Leader of the Opposition has the call.
We have found something the Prime Minister will stand up for—and we know that has not been easy and, indeed, the opposition within the government know that too—but the point is that he will stand up for the banks; he will give them a tax cut. He will not give them a royal commission—although the banks must be getting a little nervous because we have seen the usual sort of coalition government prime ministerial retreat from a position. Before the election, ASIC was enough; after the election, they thought they would slap it with the wet lettuce leaf of the member for Banks and a committee controlled by the coalition. Now, there has been an outbreak of a whole new tribunal.
The truth of the matter is that Australians are fed up with the conduct of their banks. They did not approve of the fact that they could not even see the rate reduction by the RBA passed on. The government said, 'Please do it,' but they ignored him. So tomorrow, Prime Minister, I am meeting with the victims of bank scandals. I have written to you asking you to come along. If you are serious about your plans, come and join me, meet with the victims, look them in the eye and tell them everything is fine—because it is not, Prime Minister.
In rising to second this motion—representing the sorts of electorates that I have to represent—this parliament decided to take away the rights of sugarcane farmers to arbitration. People on my right believe, profoundly, in arbitration for everybody except farmers, while the people on my left probably believe that no-one should have arbitration—they let the free market benevolently look after us all. Think of companies like Wilma that have a monopoly and that can only sell your sugar if you are local mill, so they can pay you whatever they feel like paying you. Needless to say, it is not very much.
There is not a person in this House that is not aware of what happened when the dairy deregulation took place. There is not a person in this House, probably outside of the crossbenchers, who has moved to restore the rights of arbitration to the dairy farmers. They are in exactly the same situation. The banks have to come in and take over these cripples. The second, twin blow to the sugar industry—which is the biggest employer in Queensland; it is bigger than coal; coal is bigger in revenue; both of them are not very labour intensive, but it is the industry—the second mortal blow to that industry was the decision by both sides of this parliament not to move with ethanol.
We have a more enlightened view from the state governments, and I quote Iemma, former Premier of New South Wales: 'I cannot go another day with people dying in the City of Sydney that simply do not have to die.' And that is why every other country on earth has gone to ethanol. But the implications for the sugar industry—the giant juggernaut of the Queensland economy—are profound. We are now closing a sugar mill every two years. We have 23 left. To put that in perspective, for nearly a decade Brazil was building 20 sugar mills a year, and America was building nearly 40 ethanol plants every year. But we only have 20 left and they are closing at the rate of one every two years. We are taking the brunt and, unfortunately and sadly for many decent people working in the banking industry, they have to do the dirty job—the extremely dirty job.
For those people that think this is not happening or that this is some figment of our imagination, there are 13 stations that have been foreclosed on. I was with some people from a tiny town called Caulfield on the weekend. Charlie Phillott—the very famous person who was twice on 60 Minutesnamed 12 stations that have been foreclosed on, in just his area of the Winton Shire, and the Catholic priest in Longreach said that one in four of the station properties in the Longreach area are being foreclosed on. That is three towns; we have over 50 towns like that in the cattle industry, so you can imagine the pain, disaster and misery that is coming down.
I said that there is now one person—I am trying to avoid the s-word these days—doing away with themselves every three weeks in North Queensland's cattle industry, which, again, was a decision by this place to stop live-cattle exports. It dropped the price of cattle in Australia clean in half, which sent every station-owner into penury. I said, 'One person is doing away with themselves every three weeks,' and a couple of people got nasty because I was wrong on the figures—it was one every two weeks that was doing away with themselves. I know these people. They are my friends and relatives.
Let us just start with the differences. We ran around congratulating ourselves after the GFC and, let's face it, the credit must go to Mr Swan and Mr Rudd for rescuing us from the GFC, and there is no question that is how the history books will read. There are a lot of people on the other side of the House who would agree with what they did, and we thank them for that. But let me just say what precipitated that was housing.
If you read the books—and there are three very good books out on the GFC—they will constantly quote the case of the Mexican picker of cherries who bought a house for $990,000 and he was on $40,000 a year and he had five kids. And the bank lent him that money. That is why the whole pack of cards came tumbling down. It was amazing that nobody in that nation—not one single person—was going to blow the whistle, except people who were going to make money out of it. They figured a way to make money out of the crash: 'Buy all the default insurance policies. We'll make a squillion dollars here!' See how many people blew the whistle in the effort to make money.
Over here—let me quote the figures—the last quoted figure I saw for the average price of a house in the greater Sydney area was $970,000. The average income for an Australian is $74,000. Take out his tax and he is on $50,000, which is about the repayments on the house. So if you tell me there is not a massive crash coming here then I say you are a numbskull. That is what I say to you. There is a massive crash coming.
I share the Prime Minister's view in the sense that I am one of the very few people in Australia that were responsible for calling on a royal commission. I and Bill Gunn, the Deputy Premier, were well aware of police corruption, which had reached a terrible level in Queensland—by our standards, anyway—so we called on that royal commission.
Government members interjecting—
You people are laughing. A lot of you come from New South Wales. We are angels—absolute angels—compared with you people! Let me return. This is probably not a subject of humour. I share the Prime Minister's view in the sense that you cannot control—and I say this seriously to the House—a royal commission. I will have to live, until the day that I die, that four of my cabinet colleagues—
Honourable members interjecting—
Stay with it—there is a message for every person in this House. Of 17 who have left this place, two went to jail because they had acted improperly with their benefits. Let me go specifically to the four people that went to jail in Queensland. The leading case was Brian Austin's case. Brian Austin's leading crime that he had committed was—listen to it—that he had used a government car to drive from Brisbane to Armidale to see his kids in boarding school that weekend. That was the leading example used to put him in jail—caged like an animal for two years. For the other four it was similar. There was no government corruption involved. There was misuse of your private assets that the government gives you.
You can all start thinking about your conscience. You can all start shivering, because you should. If you have a look at those cases, you should. But let me come to the point, and this is the point where I disagree with the Prime Minister, even though I can see the great dangers, the terrible things that happen in a royal commission, innocent people that get terribly hurt. Whatever Kerry Packer's misdemeanours may have been, I do not think he was the goanna running the drug syndicates of Australia. They are the things that happen in a royal commission.
I can see the Prime Minister's viewpoint clearly and I respect it, but I have to say that, if you want to stop police corruption, as in our case, that is what you have to do. We did not get the source of that police corruption; he was living with two top-of-the-range Mercedes-Benzes in a mansion at probably the most expensive address in Australia when he was the sergeant of police. We did not get him but we got the man that was protecting him. We took his protection away. So the royal commission achieved the purpose for which it was put there: to stop the police corruption. There were 45 murders that we knew of coming out of the police corruption.
Prime Minister, I ask you to think again on this issue, because, whilst I share your views of these things and every royal commission that I have seen has done terrible damage to totally innocent people, the royal commission that I was involved with stopped what we were trying to stop. Let me just go through: when everyone was congratulating themselves in Australia about how wonderful our banks were and how wonderful APRA was— (Time expired)
that all words after "that" be omitted with a view to substitute the following words: This House:
(1)acknowledges concerns in the community about certain practices in the banking sector;
(2)notes that most of the notable scandals and collapses within the financial services sectors occurred under Labor's watch, when the Leader of the Opposition was the Minister responsible for Financial Services;
(3)notes that the Leader of the Opposition, as the then Minister responsible for Financial Services, neither initiated a royal commission into the banking sectors nor took meaningful action against the banks;
(4)supports the Prime Minister's actions in:
(a)calling on the banks to pass on interest rate cuts;
(b)reminding the banks that they operate in Australia under a 'social licence';
(c)his commitment to improving the culture in the banking industry; and
(d)his requirement that Australia's major banks appear at least once a year before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics to enable the Committee to report jointly to the Treasurer and the Parliament on Australia's banking and financial system;
(5)acknowledges that the Australian Government has already taken significant steps to further strengthen our banking and financial system by commissioning the Murray Financial System Inquiry and taking significant steps toward implementing the recommendations of that report;
(a)notes that the Murray Inquiry was opposed by Labor, with the then Treasurer, the Member for McMahon, stating "The finanical system is strong, well-regulated and well managed and I have not seen a case for a full blown inquiry";
(6)notes that the the Australian Government has conducted a capability review of ASIC and has acted to strengthen the resources and capability of the regulator, which not only has the investigative and reporting powers of a Royal Commission but also strong powers to compel a person to answer questions under oath, to compel the production of documents, to seek search warrants, to conduct investigations and to then use this information in prosecutions;
(a)notes that ASIC has commenced legal proceedings against three of the big four banks for alleged market manipulation of the bank bill swap rate, has commenced an investigation into the allegations surrounding CommInsure and the broader life insurance sector and is undertaking investigations into the conduct of the largest financial advice firms, as part of its Wealth Management Project;
(7)notes that, at their appearance before the House of Representatives Standing Committe on Economics, the banks will be required to explain pricing decisions and discuss their progress in responding to various issues raised in previous Parliamentary inquiries;
(8)notes that the Government is committed to ensuring that consumer complaints in the financial system don't fall through the cracks, that consumers can access justice and appropriate compensation in a timely manner, and that the Government has tasked an expert panel, led by Professor Ian Ramsay, with a comprehensive review of the External Dispute Resolution Schemes;
(9)notes that the Australian Government, via the Ramsay Review, is looking at establishing a one-stop-shop, which could formally adjudicate on consumer complaints and award compensation to those affected by malfeasance;
(10)notes that the Ramsay Review will produce an interim report to Government by November this year and will produce its final report no later than March 2017;
(11)supports the Government's action in tasking the Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman with a forensic review of the most egregious cases identified by the Parliamentary Joint Committee report into the Impairment of Customer Loans to determine whether the regulatory deficiencies identified by the Inquiry, and any additional deficiencies identified through the forensic examination of the cases, require further specific reforms; and
(12)notes that if a Royal Commisssion was to go ahead it would simply be reviewing old ground and would delay well-developed and important reforms that will strengthen consumer protections, ensure malpractice is detected and punished, and provide a one-stop-shop for consumer complaints, in addition, a Royal Commission would send a signal internationally that there are structural problems with our banking and financial system which would have significant repercussions for confidence, international investment and for our AAA credit rating.
In moving that motion—
The point of order: you have previously ruled that members in this place were to be called by their correct titles. You called the member for Dawson. What we just heard was not the member the Dawson. I thought back in Mackay we would have someone with some courage.
If we want to talk about courage, let's talk about courage. Let's talk about what this government is going to do and what this government is doing right now. We know that there is a problem in the banking industry, so what we have done and what we continue to do is something unlike what those on the opposite side do: we are taking action. They want to have a very expensive inquiry that is only going to provide recommendations to government. And when are they so brave to do this? When they are in opposition.
They had plenty of time while they were in government. They had plenty of different scandals that occurred to actually come up with something brave: the Opes Prime margin lending scandal, the CBA financial planning scandal, Storm Financial planning scandal, Trio Capital, Great Southern north, another breach of reports by CBA financial planning, MF Global, Macquarie Equities Limited, Banksia, CBA again. All of that happened under Labor's watch, while Bill Shorten, while the Leader of the Opposition—sorry, Mr Speaker—was responsible for financial services.
He could have done something then. They are very, very weak in government; very brave in opposition. But, instead, we are taking action as a government, and we have already commissioned the financial system inquiry, the Murray inquiry, a broad root-and-branch review of Australia's financial system that was opposed by Labor. The then Treasurer, the member for McMahon, said—and I said it in the motion: 'The financial system is strong, well regulated and well managed, and I have not seen a case for a full-blown inquiry.' They are once again brave in opposition; blind in opposition, little mice in government.
I have to say with the Murray inquiry we have accepted all but one of the 44 recommendations. We have gone to ASIC. We have strengthened ASIC. We have strengthened ASIC with a range of different powers and with more resources and, as a result, three of the four big banks are currently before them, being investigated, being prosecuted. And I have to say I do applaud the work of the government here in establishing the Ramsay review.
The Ramsay review is going to be very, very important, because what trumps a big expensive talk-fest is actual action. Having a tribunal, a one-stop shop set-up, which is what the Ramsay review is tasked with looking at—a one-stop shop, perhaps a tribunal that can go and assess individual complaints that consumers bring before that tribunal. They can go and assess them to bring the banks before it, ask the banks questions, pursue perhaps penalties, but certainly provide compensation to victims of banks. I have to say that is what a lot of us have been looking for. That sort of action trumps all of the talk that these guys have, all of the talk that the Labor Party has—again, these people are lions in opposition but mice in government when it comes to the banking industry.
We have taken action. Can I just say one further thing. These guys might be mice—
You've had your chance, Tony. You've had your chance. Mr Speaker, the Labor Party might be mice when it comes to this, but I have to say I respect the member for Kennedy because he has had this issue and he has run with this issue for quite a long time. He knows as well as I do the problems that there are with the banking sector and the rural sector.
I am sure that through this Ramsay review we are going to get a tribunal established which will enable victims of banking malfeasance to come before that tribunal—penalties for the banks and compensation for the victims. That is what we have been looking for; that is what this government is going to deliver. (Time expired)
Just before I call for a seconder, I do just want to point out to the House on this first day that there have been complaints from, variously, the Leader of the House in the previous parliament and others about the length of motions. And there have been very lengthy motions. I am going to refer members now to page 297 of Practice, which points out that motions should be concise and not overly lengthy and that previous Speakers have taken action. The amendment moved by the member for Dawson was extremely lengthy. It took almost five minutes to read. It is far too long. I have chosen not to take action on this occasion, but I just flag that now, in all fairness.
I am going to ask the Manager of Opposition Business to resume his seat. I was about to call the seconder. You were not on your feet then. I made a statement to the House. I am now calling the seconder. The member for Swan, is the motion seconded?
(In division) On a point of order, with respect to the count that has just been reported. If there are 75 being counted on the government side, it means that a member on parental leave—that was carried by resolution from this House—had no government member paired. We carried a resolution of the House yesterday that a member was on parental leave, and every—
The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat.
Mr Pyne interjecting—
No, I have not called the Leader of the House; the Leader of the House will resume his seat for a second.
Honourable members interjecting—
Members on both sides! I am not calling anyone until the House comes to order.
Honourable members interjecting—
I am going to address the House: the Manager of Opposition Business has raised a point of order on a matter that he knows that the chair has absolutely no responsibility for. The count is done by the tellers, and pairing arrangements, if they exist, are a matter for the whips. The original question was—
Ms Henderson interjecting—
I am addressing the House, member for Corangamite. The original question was that the motion be agreed to, to which the honourable member for Dawson has moved an amendment. The immediate question is—
Mr Pyne interjecting—
The Leader of the House will cease interjecting. The original question was that the motion be agreed to, to which the honourable member for Dawson has moved an amendment. The immediate question is that the amendment be agreed to.
All those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary, no. Honourable members, I think the noes have it. I was going to call a division for one minute; I think we will call a division for four minutes, given the amount of time that has elapsed, and that might assist the House in other ways. Ring the bells for four minutes. A division having been called and the bells being rung—
The Leader of the House on a point of order during the division.
Mr Speaker, apropos of the obvious mistake on the part of the opposition in asking for a pair for Clare O'Neil, if they wish to have a pair for Clare O'Neil they can have one straight away right now. If they ask for one, they can have one. They haven't asked for one, and that's why they haven't got one.
The Leader of the House has raised a point of order. As I have said, the matter of pairs—
Ms Macklin interjecting—
The member for Jagajaga will cease interjecting.
An honourable member interjecting—
No, I am addressing the House. I need to at least address your last point of order before I address the next one—if that's okay! The Leader of the House has pointed out the government's position with respect to pairs. As I have said, pairs are a matter for the whips. They are not a matter for the chair. We are in the middle of a division. The whips are here in the House and they are welcome to come to whatever arrangement they wish to.
An honourable member interjecting—
The Leader of the House had another point of order that I said I would hear, unless he has completed.
I thank the Leader of the House. The member for McMahon on a point of order.
A government member: Mr Speaker, they are the ones who have asked for a pairing arrangement.
Government members interjecting—
Members on my right will cease interjecting.
Mr Morrison interjecting—
The Treasurer will cease interjecting.
A government member: If you don't want a pairing arrangement, that's your business.
Mr Sukkar interjecting—
The member for Deakin will cease interjecting. I am trying to hear a point of order in a division where members do not have a microphone. My patience is being tried. The member for McMahon on a point of order.
A few moments ago, the Leader of the House made a grossly unparliamentary remark in relation to the Manager of Opposition Business which he should withdraw immediately on this first full sitting day.
The level of noise was so loud and I was—
Honourable members interjecting—
No! The member for McMahon and other members behind him will not seek to argue with me when I am addressing the House, or the member for McMahon won't be here. I am making that very clear. I have made it clear as politely as I can that the point of order was provocative and frivolous. I am unhappy about it because the point of order was one for which the Manager of Opposition Business knows the chair has no responsibility—no responsibility whatsoever. It was provocative and lead to gross disorder by a number of members. If you want me to take action on all of them I will, but you will find that there will not be 148 people here on the first day. What I have decided to do is to move on with the motions before the House and to deal with the business.
The original question was that the motion be agreed to, to which the honourable member for Dawson has moved an amendment. The immediate question is that the amendment be agreed to.