Tuesday, 1 September 2020
Higher Education Support Amendment (Job-Ready Graduates and Supporting Regional and Remote Students) Bill 2020; Third Reading
Mr Speaker, I'm seeking to move that so much of the standing orders be suspended as is necessary to allow the member for Sydney to move that this House notes that the bill before the House (1) makes it harder and more expensive to go to university, (2) cuts a billion dollars of government funding from universities and (3) betrays students who have struggled through remote learning during this year, when COVID-19 has hit them so hard. This bill, the dirty secret—
I'm just going to ask the member for Sydney to sit down.
Mr Tim Wilson interjecting—
I recognise the member for Goldstein's voice. He has a habit of thinking he's helping, but he's often not. Unless the member for Sydney can convince me otherwise, I would like her to explain to me where there's been a precedent where, leaving the adjournment aside, the House has resolved the question on the amendment, resolved the second reading—we're now at the point where leave would be granted for the third reading, and you're seeking to move a motion in the middle of that?
Mr Burke interjecting—
No, no, I've asked the member for Sydney.
Mr Speaker, transport legislation was before the House in 2013, moved by Warren Truss. And some members who were here at the time will remember that night, where the government sought to do exactly as it did tonight, which was to gag debate not through a debate management motion but through a series of procedurals, as we have right now.
Mr Falinski interjecting—
But, under standing order 47(c)(i), suspensions of exactly this nature were ruled to be in order because they were specifically about the conduct of the debate of the bill that was before the House. The reason, ordinarily, that we have to be between bills is that suspensions that are normally being moved have nothing to do with the bills that are before the House. Every single clause of what the member for Sydney sought to move is about the bill that the government is currently trying to prevent the House from having a discussion of. That's why, under those standing orders, it's a reasonable thing for a member to stand and seek to have a suspension of standing orders to be able to debate those specific issues, all of which are relevant to the item under discussion, as happened at the end of the year in 2013.
I just say to the Manager of Opposition Business: looking at that standing order, I'm familiar with it because I think that standing order was attempted to be invoked on me on the first day I was Speaker, in another capacity. And, knowing the Manager of Opposition Business's attention to detail and his diligence, I'm making the assumption that that is the only example that he can find in the Practice. What that standing order, reading it now, refers to is motions for suspension of standing orders, and he's quite right, as it states:
(a) A Member may move, with or without notice, the suspension of any standing or other order of the House.
… … …
(c) If a suspension motion is moved without notice it:
(i) must be relevant to any business under discussion and seconded; and
(ii) can be carried only by an absolute majority of Members.
It's not referring to legislation between the second and third reading debates. If the Manager of Opposition Business was correct, we would see this happening after the second reading before leave is granted for the third reading. And, frankly, my judgement is that the process of legislation would be pretty chaotic in this place. I completely accept the point of the Manager of Opposition Business that that occurred once in 2013, but, as reluctant as I am to say this, I don't agree with all previous Speakers' rulings. I'm trying to ask leave for the third reading. Is leave granted for the third reading?
I do not agree with the motion that the minister has just moved, because at the very heart of this proposal is a billion dollar funding cut from those opposite. This year, when youth unemployment is so high—
The member for Sydney has been warned in question time.
An opposition member interjecting—
I'm just saying to the member for Sydney: she's been warned in question time.
A division having been called and the bells having been rung—
Lock the doors.
Mr Frydenberg interjecting—
Treasurer, cease interjecting, again.
Dr Chalmers interjecting—
Member for Rankin and the Treasurer, seriously—I'm going to get a chamber for the two of you, up in the spare House of Reps office! The question is that the motion be put.
The minister? No, sorry, Minister—we've got to do the question on the substantive motion. The question is that the motion moved by the member for Sydney be agreed to—or disagreed to. The question is that the motion moved by the minister be agreed to. The Manager of Opposition Business?
Honourable members interjecting—
Well, he did. It's even up there on the board. He did.
Honourable members interjecting—
Well, that's the question I put, and you've all voted accordingly. He did, the second time. So he's moved that the question be put, okay? The question is that the motion for the suspension of standing orders be agreed to.
It is a disgrace that those opposite, having given only six days to allow comment on the draft legislation, are trying to gag us in here tonight and have denied the opportunity for a Senate inquiry. And do you know why? It's because the dirty secret at the heart of this legislation is a billion dollar funding cut from government to universities, making it harder and more expensive for kids. Think about the kids and the way they have struggled this year to finish their schooling. Think about the remote learning in year 12 as they have been trying to prepare for their final exams Those kids have had as bad a year as you can imagine for year—
Mr Speaker, during the divisions, I was contacted by both the member for Melbourne and the member for Clark, wanting it to be put on the record that they would have voted with the opposition on the large number of divisions we've just had.