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FOR – Motions — Parliamentary Procedure

Ted O'Brien

I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the following motion being moved by the member for Fairfax forthwith:

That this House reaffirms the importance of a proper and comprehensive consideration by the House of Representatives of legislation dealing with matters of importance to Australians.

As every single member opposite knows, based on an act of parliamentary trickery the Australian people today have been given another tax from the Labor Party—this is the family car tax—without parliamentary procedure. This is the new modus operandi of the Australian government, a preparedness to tax the Australian people, introduce legislation into this parliament and refuse to have any scrutiny placed over it.

This week was the week that the government presented a budget, framing that budget as apparently trying to provide cost-of-living relief. But what we have today, in this very week itself, is a new tax legislated by this government. In the same week where the government says they want to make life easier for hardworking families of this country, they slap on a new tax. They do so under the guise of a vehicle efficiency standard, but everybody in this country knows the truth: it is a new family car tax.

And here's the worst part of it: the government itself knows the truth. That is why we have seen today a shutdown of the parliamentary debate on this piece of legislation. The Prime Minister knows the truth. The minister responsible, the minister for transport, knows the truth. This minister who sits across from me right now, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy, he knows the truth. I've been to car dealerships in his electorate. They tell me the punitive tax will be paid ultimately by consumers, but will this government have the debate in this parliament? No; it refuses.

This goes to the heart of the lack of integrity and the cowardice of this government. Why would you not have the strength of character to stand in this parliament and put forward your case? If you want to tax the Australian people for buying the cars they like, the cars they need, then why would you not stand in this parliament and have the debate? Why are you so scared of transparency? Why are you so frightened of having a debate? Why will you not be honest with the Australian people about the impact of this legislation when they purchase vehicles? Silence. Radio silence. This is the problem we have seen: radio silence from the government when it comes to all parts of this legislation.

Oh, now the minister would like to pipe up! I'm happy to take any interjection, Minister. What is your interjection? There is silence because you know you've shut down debate on this topic today. It's not unlike what the minister across the table did on introducing a 43 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030—a lack of transparency. To this day we still have nothing from the government on economic modelling of the impact on the Australian people—none. And as a minister leaves this chamber, will he go back to the office and say to his staff, 'Let's release that modelling of the impact on the Australian people of my emissions reduction target'? No. The same Minister for Climate Change and Energy, who is leaving the chamber right now, was the very one who put out the target that 89 per cent sales of vehicles in Australia by 2030 had to be electric vehicles, had to be EVs. Is that being achieved? No. The government's own department says it's only going to come in at 27 per cent.

So what has happened here? Emission targets set at 43 per cent—they will not be achieved. EV sales targets set at 89 per cent—they will not be achieved. The government gets desperate. Its objective is to achieve its objective no matter what the impact is, no matter what the cost is for the Australian people. And as part of that plan it introduces a new family car tax, the original design of which was estimating an increase in the purchase price of vehicles of up to $25,000 for Land Cruisers. We are looking at the prices of Australia's most popular vehicles going up.

This government will continue to introduce legislation that will harm the Australian people. We have seen again this week through the budget that this government's approach is to not be transparent, to not show modelling, to not put consumers at the centre but to put itself as the centre. This is big-government Labor approach. There are winners and there are losers, and we've seen again this week the government's 'made in Australia' policy: it is picking winners.

But if you pick winners then, by default, you are also picking losers. The question Australians have to ask themselves, after two years of this government, is: have you been made a winner or have you been made a loser? Australians aren't mugs. They know, under this government, on which side of the ledger they fall. Is this government trying to make them a winner, or a loser? As Australians, do you feel richer, or poorer, after the last two years? Australians: are your lives now easier than they were two years ago, or harder? Australians: is it harder to make ends meet, or is it easier?

We have a government that is choosing winners and losers. The Australian people, by and large, are the losers here. Even with the family car tax that that the government has just rushed through—closed down any debate—it's the everyday Australian family that will lose. They'll be the ones who'll be paying the higher price for vehicles. It'll be the most vulnerable Australians who'll be hurt the most. It'll be Australians living in regional communities, having to travel vast distances, who'll be hurt the most.

Now, I accept that different sides of parliament can have different philosophical views about certain areas of public policy. But no matter one's view, you should at least have the courage of your convictions to come to the dispatch box in parliament and prosecute the case, to have your policy open for scrutiny and review. But this government hasn't done that, and we see the Australian people hurt as a result. For all the waffle we've heard this week from the government about trying to look after Australian consumers, at the first opportunity they had to legislate something to assist everyday families they instead legislated a new tax.

People can judge others by what they say or what they do. I put that this government must be judged by what they do. We on this side of the House stood ready to engage with the government in good faith on a vehicle efficiency standard. They refused to engage. We put principles on the table—genuine emissions reduction, affordability, choice. Every one of those principles were ignored. The Australian people have been ignored. The Australian people are paying the price.

So, as Australians move forward and they keep hearing all the talk from this government about cost of living, they can be sure of one thing. This government is refusing to release any economic modelling that demonstrates the impact on consumers of this family car tax. Secondly, they can be sure that this government has refused to engage in good faith across the parliamentary aisle to ensure that a proper efficiency standard has been put in place. Thirdly, they can be sure that this government has rushed through this parliament—without debate, without scrutiny—a new family car tax which will be paid by everyday Australians, while this government laughs and carries on. That's the calibre of the Albanese Labor government.

Mike Freelander

Is the motion seconded?

Michael McCormack

I second the motion. We know that standing and sessional orders do need to be suspended because, as the member for Fairfax states, this House has to reaffirm the importance of a proper and comprehensive consideration by this House—the people's house, the house of what used to be democracy—of legislation dealing with matters of importance to Australians. If ever there were a matter of importance to Australians, it is this matter.

The Labor government has form when it comes to gagging debate. Indeed, last year, for the first time since I was elected in 2010, they gagged the appropriation bills of all bills to gag. Just recently, in the last sitting week of the Senate, they gagged our senators from speaking about the digital identity bill in the upper house. Now here today, they have gagged the fuel efficiency standard debates. There was a long list of speakers who wanted to speak about the importance of this legislation for and on behalf of their constituents. Many of those members are regional members who will hurt the most from this tax on family cars and utes.

But those opposite don't care about families and farmers. They do not care about families, which are in Struggle Street at the moment. They do not need another Labor tax to impose upon their livelihoods, upon their day-to-day budgets. I appreciate that the member for Rankin stood at that dispatch box the other night and delivered his budget speech, but the important budgets that are being done are around the family living room tables. They are the ones that are being done by families that are struggling to pay for groceries, struggling to pay every time they go to the bowser at the petrol station. Under this, they're going to be struggling even more. They are hurting so much, and that is why the suspension is so important. That is why Labor has to finally concede that, before it came to power, it said: 'Let the sun shine in. Let there be more transparency.' Yet they are gagging debate again and again. This is simply not good enough.

And they're doing it in collaboration with, for and on behalf of the teals. They are a party; let's make no mistake. They're also doing it on behalf of the Greens.

Opposition Members

Opposition members interjecting—

Mike Freelander

We don't need the echo. Order.

Michael McCormack

They are here and they are helping. They've all been denied speaking on this important debate. Every one of my colleagues behind me are very concerned, very worried and very upset that they weren't allowed to speak about the fuel efficiency standards. We saw the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government come to the dispatch box and talk about how much this is going to mean for the regions. She has absolutely no idea. This is the same minister who has absolutely cut, stalled, delayed or, indeed, taken away all of the regional infrastructure, all of the roads infrastructure—so much so that even in the Courier Mail yesterday the columnist was talking about how much easier it was to deal with the coalition when it came to infrastructure. That's from Palaszczuk government insiders.

Here we have a government that feels the need to not only gag debate but then ram through this unnecessary legislation. The ones who will be hurting the most are our farmers. The ones who will be hurting the most are our rural and regional families and, indeed, those in remote areas. I appreciate that the Minister for Climate Change and Energy says that this is necessary. I appreciate that he says that this is going to lead to reduced emissions. I appreciate that he says this is going to lead us closer to net zero. But it's all poppycock. It absolutely is. He knows it.

What we've seen today is a denial of democracy. What we've seen today is the Labor government denying people from the coalition, members who are sent here by their constituents—by their rural and regional constituents in particular—to speak on this debate, and they have not been given or afforded the opportunity to do so. This is a shameful day for this parliament. In 14 years I have never seen this sort of behaviour by those opposite, who promised more, who promised better when they came to power. That is why the suspension is so necessary. This is another tax on families. This is another tax on farmers. This is another tax on the regions. It is so unnecessary from those opposite, who should have known better, who promised better and who have broken yet another promise to the Australian people.

Long debate text truncated.


Date and time: 11:48 AM on 2024-05-16
Allegra Spender's vote: Aye
Total number of "aye" votes: 65
Total number of "no" votes: 77
Total number of abstentions: 9

Adapted from information made available by

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