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FOR – Business — Rearrangement

Adam Bandt

I move:

That:

(1) The House notes:

(a) the House agreed to a resolution requiring all questions necessary to complete consideration of the Migration Amendment (Removal and Other Measures) Bill 2024 to be put at 1:40 pm;

(b) the opposition was permitted to move its detailed amendment at 1:45 pm; and

(c) the member for Warringah was not permitted to move her detailed amendments after that time, despite her having circulated the amendments and having sought the call.

(2) So much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the resolutions that the bill be agreed to and that the bill be now read a third time being rescinded in order to enable further consideration in detail of the bill, and for the member for Warringah to move amendments as circulated in her name.

There has been a double deception of the House today, as part—

Milton Dick

Just before the Leader of the Greens continues, the Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order?

Paul Fletcher

I just want to understand the basis on which the Leader of the Greens has jumped to move this motion. He hasn't called for standing orders to be suspended. We've already had one item which, frankly, should not have come on. And this is showing great disrespect, I may say, to the coalition, which has the MPI for today.

Milton Dick

Under the standing orders, any member can move a suspension at any time. I have confirmed that the MPI will follow this immediately. So any member can move a suspension, but I'd just remind members of the order of business that is occurring and to take that in mind in future for any decisions made. The Leader of the Australian Greens has the call.

Adam Bandt

Thank you, Speaker. There has been a double deception of the House today. First, there was a dirty deal between the government and the opposition to ram through a bill that takes away people's rights and could see people end up in jail, right? As part of that, the government and the opposition agreed to a debate management motion. That debate management motion massively favoured the opposition, at the expense of the crossbench, and denied all members of this parliament the ability to contribute to the debate, because the debate management motion that Labor and the Liberals agreed to not only deprived us of any capacity to debate this bill in the ordinary course, by being able to take it back to our constituents, gain advice on it and seek how to deal with something so critical as minimum mandatory sentencing that could see people ending up in jail with no discretion at all, but the debate management motion that was agreed to between the government and the opposition said at point 3:

… at 1.40 pm, if debate has not concluded earlier, the question being put on any remaining questions necessary to complete consideration of the bill …

That's what they agreed to. We opposed this debate management motion—this gagging of debate to ensure that this dirty deal would be done. But, once it was there, we expected it would be stuck to.

But a second deception occurred, because, once it hit 1.40 pm, amendments were allowed to continue to be moved. And, at 1.45 pm, the opposition moved their amendments. So it was clear, at that stage, that one of two things was happening: either the resolution was not being followed, or the government had accepted that there would be time for amendments to be moved, debated and voted on. That is critical, because what the debate management motion also said was that, once we got into the debate, there would be a provision for crossbenchers to move amendments. There would be the provision for the government to move amendments, for the opposition to move amendments and for crossbenchers to move amendments. That was all in the motion.

Now, the member for Warringah did the right thing. She circulated amendments and sought the call, after the opposition, after 1.40 pm, according to the Hansard, was able to move their amendments, but then was not given the opportunity to do it. So there was a double deception where not only was everyone in this place denied the chance to scrutinise the bill and participate in it properly, but then, when it came to following even the rules of the motion itself, that got thrown out the window. What became clear was that not only was there a double deception but also a double standard. When you have a motion that passes this place that says it will go, 'Opposition amendments and then amendments being moved by crossbenchers,' and when it is the case that obviously some leniency appears to be granted because the opposition is allowed to move theirs out of time, but then the crossbenchers are not, on a bill as critical as this, that is a double standard.

The answer has to be that we go back and afford the member for Warringah the same rights that were given to the opposition—namely, to move an amendment out of time and have it debated and voted on. To do that, the second reading question and the third reading question have to be rescinded to allow the debate to be reopened. That is the way to ensure fairness.

If this motion is opposed, and the government says no, then the government is saying: 'We will come into this place and bring a debate management motion. We won't require the opposition to follow it but we will make the crossbench follow it, and they will get punished. We will give special treatment to the Liberals; they get to flout the time lines, if this motion is not supported here in the House today and we are not able to recommit the second and third questions.' It also says to us on the crossbench that we can't take at face value what is put in writing and passed through this parliament. It seems there is one rule for the opposition and a different rule for the crossbench.

This is especially critical when you come in here with a dirty deal—not you, Deputy Speaker Claydon; I withdraw that. It is especially critical when the government comes in here with a dirty deal between Labor and Liberal to ram through legislation that could see people end up in jail and say, 'Oh, we will only give you five minutes to speak. But it's okay, you will have a chance to debate your amendments.' And then that doesn't even turn out to be the case.

This is so critical because we are dealing with legislation that, in the short time we have had available to look at it, permits the following scenario. It could permit a situation where a minister is able to direct a mother to apply for passports for her and her children to return to Iran, even though there is fear of persecution. And, if she doesn't do it, she gets put in jail with a mandatory minimum sentence of one year. Labor's policy platform says that they oppose mandatory minimum sentencing. But this bill doesn't say that. This bill says you get a mandatory minimum sentence.

So that mum, who says she has a genuine fear she will face persecution if she has to be returned there, faces a jail sentence here in Australia. When we seek to contribute to that debate, we are not only denied time to do it by being forced to debate it immediately as soon as it comes in, but we are told we can move amendments, and then we are told we can't but that the opposition can. There is no rationale for this double standard. I urge the government to think about the precedent that this sets for whether or not we can take at face value what they say when they bring it to this place.

Sharon Claydon

Just before I go, I need the attention of the crossbench just for a moment. As I understand it, you are moving a suspension of standing orders, so I want to assist the House to enable this to progress. Your first point would be regarded as out of order. So I am asking if the member for Melbourne might accept that the first point of your motion should in fact be: 'I move that so much of standing orders be suspended in order to move to the second point'—which is in order. Are you agreeable to that?

Adam Bandt

Yes. I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the resolutions 'That the bill be agreed to' and 'That the bill be now read a third time' relating to the Migration Amendment (Removal and Other Measures) Bill 2024 being rescinded to enable further consideration in detail of the bill and for the Member for Warringah to move amendments as circulated in her name.

Sharon Claydon

Thank you. And now I am seeking a seconder for the motion.

Zali Steggall

I second the motion moved by the member for Melbourne in relation to suspending standing orders to enable proper conduct in this place. To be very clear about what happened today, the government moved a very specific procedural motion to limit debate on the second reading of a controversial bill to 40 minutes. It then included in that procedural motion very specific provisions for questions to be put at the consideration in detail stage, with an express provision for the opposition to be able to put its question and then for a separate question to be put by crossbench members.

The second reading was not concluded in accordance with that motion. It went beyond that 40 minutes. The opposition was then given the call to move its amendment at the consideration in detail stage, and the record indicates that was at 1.45 pm. But, upon seeking the call following the division that ensued, I was overlooked by the chair, and the chair proceeded to go straight to that. At no point was there a question of any member of government standing to say that I was unable to seek the call from the chair to move my consideration in detail amendment, because of there being a decision to revisit the 1.40 time line. It's clear that, when the opposition were given the opportunity to move their amendment past the time in those provisions, the government had waived the provisions of that motion.

It does give rise to a question—I would say a legal question. Once the government allowed the opposition to move their amendment at consideration in detail at 1.45, it had departed from the motion, its own procedural motion. Unless there was intervention by the government to deny the call being granted to me to be able to move my consideration in detail amendment, I respectfully put that it was not within the power of the Speaker to ignore my request for the call to move that motion, because no-one from government sought to deny me that call by saying that the motion limited it.

There is a procedural question here that really raises questions of the integrity of the chamber and the way this works, and I think it puts the Speaker in a really difficult position. I do not wish to cast any negative imputation or anything in relation to the role of the Speaker, but it has put the Speaker in a very difficult position as to the proper management and operation of the House, by the conduct of the government itself. It has failed to implement its own procedural motion and then allow for proper debate to occur.

So that we're really clear, the consideration in detail amendment that was proposed and circulated was to provide that women at risk of or suffering from domestic violence or abuse could not be provided a removal order by the minister. Everyone in this place stands up time and time again to say that they stand for fighting against domestic violence and protecting the rights of women. Yet here we had a real case, an opportunity to make sure that law was not going to be a complete overreach when it comes to women and children in situations of domestic violence and abuse, and the government did not comply with its own motion to allow me to move that amendment. That is why we should be suspending standing orders and revisiting the question.

If, legally, there is a question that we've departed from that procedural motion then the provisions of the standing orders should be regenerated. On the question of reconsideration, standing order 154, for example, specifically provides:

Before the third reading of a bill is moved, a Member may move without notice that a bill be reconsidered in detail, in whole or in part, by the House.

I sought to do that, trying to go by the book, relying on these standing orders. But what was made clear today, by how the House operated and the really difficult position the chair was put in, was that it appears to be a free-for-all. It appears that the government can move a procedural motion that makes specific considerations and provisions for the debate and the process for a bill—rightly or wrongly, of course; I'll put aside my concerns around the curtailing of debate—but then depart from that without amending the motion and, I would say, put the whole consideration in question as to the legitimacy of the vote that occurred. The only way that can be fixed is by supporting this motion to suspend standing orders, return to the question and enable standing order 154 to be engaged so that the bill can be reconsidered and consideration in detail can properly proceed.

Milton Dick

The question is that the motion moved by the Leader of the Australian Greens be agreed to.

Summary

Date and time: 4:04 PM on 2024-03-26
Allegra Spender's vote: Aye
Total number of "aye" votes: 15
Total number of "no" votes: 37
Total number of abstentions: 98

Adapted from information made available by theyvoteforyou.org.au

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