It really is quite extraordinary hearing the squeals of outrage coming from the Coalition MPs suggesting they haven’t got enough time to consider CPRS amendments and that the debate on such an important issue is being rushed.
Leaving aside the fact that this is the second time the legislation has been before the Parliament, and that the amendments being negotiated between government and Opposition were those being forward by the Opposition, the collective short-term memory loss amongst Coalition people is remarkable.
This is the mob who when in government less than three years ago were pushing entire pieces of legislation through the Senate in the space of a week, sometimes without even the pretence of a brief Senate Inquiry (or sometimes with the pretence of a brief Inquiry, whilst making it blatantly obvious it was just a pretence).
Major amendments to workplace relations laws were foisted on the Senate with at best a few hours to assess. The entire package of Northern Territory Intervention legislation was given a week, eventually including a begrudging one day Committee Inquiry which refused point blank to take evidence from the authors of the Little Children are Sacred report which allegedly underpinned the whole thing.
If Coalition people are going to vote against the CPRS, they should against it – I would because I think it’s far too weak and would lock inadequate action which will cost even more in compensation to fix down the track.
If they want to defer it until Copenhagen to have a better idea of the international landscape, they should do that – it’s a defensible position ( or would have been if they’d collectively adopted it and stuck to it) – rather than waste the entire final week of Senate sittings filibustering and bullshitting. There is plenty of other important legislation that needs to be debated.
But complaining about having amendments foisted on them with insufficient time for consideration – particularly when it’s a variant of their own amendments – is both hypocritical and nonsense.
As things stand, even if Malcolm Turnbull gets majority agreement from his party room to do a deal with the government it will be easy for a small number of committed Coalition climate change deniers to talk the CPRS Bills out for the rest of the week. The government will not have the numbers for a guillotine unless the Coalition agrees to guillotine its own rebels, which would be a significant action. So even if Turnbull ‘wins’, he could easily lose if some of those who believe in doing nothing about climate change dig their heels in regardless. Mind you, if there is a guillotine agreed on, any squeals from the Coalition side would be hypocrisy squared, given the regularity with which gags and guillotines were voted for by the same people when in government.
I know hypocrisy is standard parlance in political debate, particularly when you compare what is said when people are in government to when they are in Opposition, but the regularity of it shouldn’t make us dismissive of it.