Tuesday, 2 June 2009
by leave—I move:
That for the sitting tomorrow, Wednesday, 3 June 2009:
- standing order 31 (Automatic adjournment of the House) and standing order 33 (Limit on business) be suspended, and
- from 7.30 p.m. any division on a question called for in the House, other than a motion moved by a Minister, shall stand deferred until the next sitting.
I will speak to the motion briefly. For the benefit of members, the intention is that after the MPI debate there will be the summing up by the minister on the workplace relations legislation that is before the House. That will then be voted on by the House. We will then resume debate on the health insurance legislation. That will be voted on by the House. Then debate will begin on the CPRS legislation. The CPRS legislation debate will recommence tomorrow morning. It is my view, as Leader of the House, and I understand it is the view of the Manager of Opposition Business, that it would be in the interests of the House if people restricted their comments to less than the allocated 20 minutes so that we could maximise the number of speakers on the legislation.
Parliament will sit late tomorrow night, Member for New England, so that people will have the opportunity to speak and contribute to the debate. However, if 60 speakers speak for 20 minutes then I think the staff of the parliament will be here all night. It is the intention of the government to have the vote on that legislation on Thursday morning. Every attempt is being made to give appropriate advance notice to members as a courtesy to all members. I thank the Manager of Opposition Business for his cooperation, which I think is in the interests of the orderly conduct of the affairs of this House. That is the reason for the motion that has been put forward.
Just briefly: the Leader of the House has outlined a program that will ensure that the majority of members of the parliament who wish to speak will get to do so. We on our side of the House have grave concerns about the bills that will be voted on this week—the fair work bills, the fairer private health insurance incentive bills and the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme bills. We on our side of the House would like the opportunity to speak to those bills and to vote on those bills, so we are prepared to cooperate with the government. Adding hours yesterday morning, this morning, tonight and tomorrow night will ensure that democracy is well served by members being able to give the speeches that they had hoped to give—albeit in some instances in less than the full 20 minutes. Of course, if the member for New England, as an Independent member, wishes to delay the House for a full 20 minutes he is entirely entitled to do so. But we on this side of the House are quite prepared to ensure that every member of the House gets an opportunity to speak.
In speaking to this motion, I would point out that it is only because of the failure of the government to schedule correctly the bills to be debated and passed this year that we have been placed in this position. This is about the failure of the government, of whoever is running the business for the government, in putting these very substantive bills on the Notice Paper for debate this week. We know they can force them to be passed. We know they can apply the guillotine and gag the debate on these bills and deny us the opportunity to speak to these bills, and we want the opportunity to do so. But I do place on record our deep concern. When we were in government, this did not happen. We are in this position—and members of the Labor Party should understand this—because the Leader of the House has failed to correctly schedule the bills for debate in the chamber.
Question agreed to.