Friday, 17 November 2023
Consideration of Legislation
Given that you have declared that the time for the consideration of the Inspector-General of Live Animal Exports Amendment (Animal Welfare) Bill has expired, pursuant to contingent notice of motion No. 7 standing in my name, I move:
That so much of that standing orders be suspended as would prevent further consideration of the bill without limitation on time.
President, this is about ensuring that this Senate chamber gets the opportunity to debate—
Well, President, there's frustration here—and understandably so—because those opposite have sought to apply a guillotine across multiple pieces of legislation. This chamber, had I not intervened, was about to move onto considering the live animal exports amendment bill with not an iota of debate. Not a second of debate or further scrutiny is allowed further to the bill, to the committee stage nor to any of the amendments that are being proposed to the bill.
Opposition senators interjecting—
This Senate deserves the right to properly scrutinise legislation. Sometimes there may be proposals for bills to operate under time management. But that should be time management in which there is at least consideration, bill by bill, for some questions to be put, for some questions to be asked and for some amendments to be scrutinised. But, no, that's not the way this government wants to work. What this government did this morning was simply to come into the chamber knowing that the time allocated for the consideration of four bills would be just 14 minutes. Two of those had not even a second of commentary allowed in this chamber before. Cast your minds back to the lead-up to the last election. What were we promised by Mr Albanese? What were we promised by Senator Wong? What were we promised by the Labor Party?
Yes, Senator McGrath—lower power bills were one of those promises. You are right; there was a promise of $275 of cuts to power bills. That was one of the promises, and it was made more than 90 times, as Senator McGrath rightly points out.
Of course, we were also promised greater transparency. We were promised greater accountability. We were promised a new way of doing business. That's what we were told would come from those opposite. Instead, we've got the hypocrisy of a Labor-Greens alliance who simply want to ram legislation through this place without enabling any consideration of it. What we don't know, what is not transparent—and the challenge I lay down to the Labor Party and the Greens to be honest about—is what else was discussed in putting this guillotine in place.
Honourable senators interjecting—
I acknowledge the point of order there. But of course, it's gymnastics for which Senator Whish-Wilson and the Greens deserve a gold medal—gymnastics for the backflipping that they are performing through the passage of this guillotine and the motions they've put in place. The Greens—the ultimate arbiters and judges of transparency and accountability, well jeez, with a triple-pike backflip we've seen across the chamber as they're happy to shut down debate and for there to be absolutely no consideration or detail or scrutiny applied. The Greens are doing that on bills that you would have thought they would want to stand strong. On bills that you would have thought they would want to apply scrutiny to the Labor Party. That is what drives the suspicion levels so high about the deal that's been done.
The idea that the Australian Greens will just cosy up to the Labor Party and miss out on the chance to scrutinise legislation in relation to live animal exports raises suspicion levels right through the roof. It means there's got to be something that has been done as a deal between the Labor Party and the Greens. They could not have come to this sort of accommodation, where the Greens just wave away all of their rights to be outraged in relation to what the government is doing, urge the government to go further and argue for their passionate amendments. But instead, obviously, on long-lunch Friday, the Greens are eager to hit the vegan restaurant and to find the opportunity to get out of here as quickly as they can, take whatever prize has been offered in front of them by the Labor Party and trade away the chance for scrutiny—to trade away this bill, to trade away social security bills, to trade away their apparent convictions for transparency, and instead, to just be happy to get out of here, rather than do their jobs. Shame on them.
That rousing speech. I would remind everybody, despite his attack on the Greens—and there's nothing wrong with vegan and vegetarianism; I am not, but I think that was a bit unnecessary—I would make the point of the high and mighty principle that was on display, let's remember the coalition worked with the Greens political party to not vote on a bill for six days that they supported. Six days of sitting because they just wanted to create trouble. They were happy to work with the Greens political party then, weren't they?
I expect the Greens wanted a lot of time, because they didn't want that bill. They were actually principled and consistent. You lot wanted the bill, but you just wanted to cause trouble. You just wanted to make sure that we didn't have time to debate it. If you'd really wanted to debate live exports, well, maybe you shouldn't have played around for six days on a bill you agreed with. If you really wanted to talk about live exports, you might have made sure you didn't play some political games on a bill you agreed with, that you eventually had to support. So, let's remember the hypocrisy of those opposite, who chewed up six days on a bill they agreed with and now come in and complain there's not enough time. It's a ridiculous proposition. I move:
That the question be now put.