Thursday, 17 June 2010
Paid Parental Leave Bill 2010; Paid Parental Leave (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2010
I must say that I could get used to this mood lighting! Certainly, Senator Evans has never looked so good! I would like to make it absolutely crystal clear that the opposition, if it is successful with its amendments, has no desire to imperil the bill and has no desire to delay the bill. If we are successful and the bill bounces back from the other place, we will not be insisting on the amendments. But we do hope that the government does pause for thought about this and about these amendments.
In response to Senator Hanson-Young’s comments as to why we are supporting these amendments and not other amendments which had a flavour or reflected some elements of our policy, the reason is quite simply that we knew that the government would not entertain for one second in the other place those other amendments. We do hope that with these amendments the government will pause for thought, because they do not fundamentally change the nature of the scheme that the government is seeking to introduce but they do seek to lift a burden from small business. I say again: I do hope that the government does take these amendments as genuine and at face value and does seriously consider them.
If these amendments are successful, there is no need for that to represent a delay to this legislation. Whether this legislation is delayed is entirely in the government’s hands. How long it takes to be dealt with in the other place, if it is successful, is entirely a matter for the government. How quickly it comes back here is entirely a matter for the government. Mr Albanese was on Sky this morning saying that the opposition was being frustrating and was seeking to delay the PPL legislation and that it was unlikely the legislation would be passed today. The opposition is not frustrating. The opposition is not delaying. We are seeking to make a significant improvement to the bill in the interests of small business. If there is a delay, it is not because of the opposition; it will be because of the government.
The opposition make the commitment that, if a message comes back from the House today, in the event that this motion is successful, we are happy to support the government in interrupting whatever business is taking place in the Senate to facilitate the passage of the legislation. I just want to make it clear that the opposition is being responsible, despite what Mr Albanese has been saying and despite what the Prime Minister has been saying. We are simply seeking to do our job. We are simply seeking to make sure that the Senate does its job. There is no need for delay, and we stand ready to be cooperative with the government in the event that this is successful and bounces back.