House debates

Thursday, 6 December 2018


Coalition Government

4:50 pm

Photo of Tanya PlibersekTanya Plibersek (Sydney, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

This morning there were people driving across cities with two kids in the back, dropping one to child care and one to school before they made the trip to work. There were people standing on railway stations waiting to get onto overcrowded carriages. There were people on buses, standing room only, all of them making their way to work, to open their shops and to work in their factories, childcare centres and mines, all of them starting work today—some of them in the early hours of the morning, some of them having worked all night—and tomorrow they'll do exactly the same. This parliament disrespects those people when we pull up stumps at half-time and go home. It is absolutely disgraceful that this government is so frightened of doing something decent for the refugees on Nauru that the work of the parliament stops.

The rot set in with this government when they knocked off a parliamentary sitting day so they could knock off a leader. They actually cancelled parliament to roll Malcolm Turnbull, and it has just got worse since then. You can look at their speakers' lists. The speakers' lists this week have been so instructive, haven't they? Long lists of Labor people have been prepared to speak on government bills, while there has been no-one, sometimes, from the government side on some bills—not a person. Look at the imbalance on these speakers' lists. It has happened day after day.

Then we got the calendar for next year. There are 10 sitting days in 8 months. No wonder people are disgusted by this part-time parliament. Now, tonight, they're preparing to scurry away from their failure. This is the 20th year that I have been here, and I think that almost every year we have sat late—sometimes through the night, sometimes through the next day. I've been here heavily pregnant, sleeping on a couch at 3 am in the morning, coming down to divisions, working through the night and working the next day to get it done, just as Paul Keating did when the Mabo legislation was being debated in the Senate and he held the House of Representatives back until that debate was done. They sat almost through Christmas that year—but not this lot; no, not this lot.

In October, the Prime Minister said we should get rid of discrimination against gay and lesbian kids as a matter of priority. It has still not been done. They'll scurry away from here without that being done. Encryption legislation that this government has said again and again is urgent, critical and vital to keeping Australians safe over Christmas must be passed this week. They're scurrying away before that's done. As the Leader of the Opposition said, it's done, it's amended, it has been changed in the Senate. We are simply waiting for it to come back here to the House of Representatives so we can pass it. This vital legislation should be brought back to the House of Representatives so it can be passed. This House should sit until we deal with it. We are prepared to sit all night. We are prepared to sit tomorrow—but not those opposite. They'll scurry away from this one too. Their big stick divestment legislation, again, is so vital and so important. They can't stay back for half an hour to fix that up either.

These people should be absolutely appalled. And do you know why this government is walking out on a job half-done? They are walking out on a job half-done because they are so frightened that the crossbench and Labor will bring sick refugees to Australia for medical treatment on the advice of doctors. By their own measure, they are prepared to endanger national security because they're so frightened of doing the right thing by refugees on Nauru.

We heard that the Prime Minister was talking—he was revving up his party room by saying that there would be full engagement with the enemy. He means us. He doesn't mean those on his backbench who are undermining him! 'There'd be full engagement with the enemy.' Well, this is a government in full retreat. It is in full retreat.

Photo of Michelle RowlandMichelle Rowland (Greenway, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

White flag!

Photo of Tanya PlibersekTanya Plibersek (Sydney, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

They have run up the white flag. They are scuttling back to their electorates in shame because they are so frightened of Labor and the crossbench doing the right thing, combining to do something that Australians are in favour of, that they're prepared to give up what they say has been most important this year in keeping Australians safe.