Senate debates

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Business

Consideration of Legislation

3:12 pm

Photo of Mitch FifieldMitch Fifield (Victoria, Liberal Party, Minister for Communications) Share this | Hansard source

One of the great parliamentarians, one of the great Liberals, Peter Costello coined the phrase, 'Hypocrisy, thy name is Labor', and we are seeing that writ large today on the other side of the chamber.

Regrettably, I have had a very good vantage point over a number of years from which to see that Labor hypocrisy. What I am referring to is my misfortune for the best part of eight years to be the manager of coalition business for half that time in government and half that time in opposition. In that time in opposition we saw an incredible display of the use of the guillotine. Over the course of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government 188 bills were guillotined. Debates on 188 bills were guillotined by the Australian Labor Party with the support of the Australian Greens but there was one—I have to say—outstanding example.

I'm not in the habit of doing this, but let me refer to a press release of my own from 20 June 2013 headed 'Government to gag debate on 53 bills in the Senate'. Senator Macdonald, who it would be fair to say has a fair degree of institutional knowledge in this place, still recalls what an incredible time that was.

Let me just give a little more detail for the benefit of crossbench colleagues who may not have been with us at that time:

Of the 53 Bills listed to be guillotined, there are 49 bills that will each be debated for less than one hour and of these Bills there are 30 that will be examined for less than half an hour, and 17 for less than fifteen minutes.

So, for those opposite, using the guillotine was standard operating procedure. On this side of the chamber, it is something that is deployed very sparingly.

Senator Cormann interjecting—

This is the fourth time, as the Leader of the Government in the Senate remains me.

As the Leader of the Government in the Senate indicated, everyone in this chamber knows what they are going to do. Everyone in this chamber knows what their position is. These are matters which have been canvassed extensively in both chambers of the parliament and in the community. The time has arrived for the Senate to do its job, and that is to make a call on this important legislation.

It's worth reminding colleagues that this legislation is all about allowing the Australian people to keep more of what is theirs. We've seen from those opposite an interesting twist on their previous policy of roll-back. You might recall that, when we introduced the new tax system and we got rid of the wholesale sales tax and applied the GST and reduced income tax all at the same time, those opposite wanted to roll back the GST. They actually wanted to remove a tax. What those opposite now want to do is introduce a different twist on the concept of roll-back, and that is to roll back tax cuts. They want to roll back tax cuts. This is bizarre in the extreme.

Colleagues—I say through you, Mr President—should support this motion to suspend standing orders so that we can move the motion that will set out a mechanism and a time frame within which we can address this legislation together. That's what the Australian people expect. They expect us to get on with transacting the people's business. That's what this motion for suspending standing orders seeks to do: simply to give this chamber the opportunity to pursue the people's business. So we will not hear and recognise the calls of those opposite when they complain about the guillotine. I look at Senator Collins. She was the Manager of Government Business at the time that those 54 bills were guillotined.

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