Senate debates

Tuesday, 22 June 2021


Fuel Security Bill 2021, Fuel Security (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2021; In Committee

7:13 pm

Photo of Rex PatrickRex Patrick (SA, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

I'm quite disappointed at what's happened here. I sat and listened to all the speeches in the second reading debate. I listened to Senator McAllister, Senator Ayres and Senator Sheldon, who all criticised the government for its lack of organisation over the last two or three parliaments in managing our fuel security. Yet, when I put on the table a proposition that says, 'Lay out a plan,' there is no support for that concept. Senator McAllister mentioned the request of the PJCIS to look at fuel security. There is a document sitting on the minister's desk—from the Liquid Fuel Security Review—that has not been made available. That is the sort of thing that happens with this government. It is completely opaque in respect of advice that it receives and in respect of planning. Minister, if you say that all of these things are already coming together in different places, then just stick it in the one document.

And to the Labor Party: I don't buy the fact that, as you say, this holds up the bill. Just to be really clear on how this works—because clearly the opposition doesn't understand it—if you support this amendment tonight, the bill will then get passed, it will go back to the House with an amendment and then the House can debate it. In fact, Labor could stand up in the House and say: 'Do you know what? There ought to be a plan.' That could be dealt with tomorrow, and it could be back in this chamber by tomorrow afternoon. So to suggest that this amendment would hold up the legislation beyond this sitting week is actually deceptive; it's misleading. That's not how it works. Everyone needs to understand that.

The Labor Party could support this amendment. They say that in principle they agree that a plan ought to be put on the table. They know how the government will work if there's no legal requirement to do so, yet they suggest that they're not going to support this because the government won't be able to deal with it in the House tomorrow. It's just crazy, and it is disappointing. In order to be a government, you have to be a strong opposition first, and you have to realise that. Senator McAllister has engaged politely with me on this. I've also engaged with Mr Bowen in the other place.

Do you know what? Labor has to learn to stand up every once in a while—stand up and do the right thing. Don't pretend that procedurally this puts the bill at risk. It doesn't. It simply takes some courage. Anthony Albanese in this instance has failed. I didn't speak to Mr Albanese, but one presumes that this was at least discussed with him. We need to get a backbone from the opposition. We need to get the opposition standing up, being strong, supporting good legislation. This is a disgrace.


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