Tue, 26 Jul 2022 - 13:02
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Sky News First Edition – Interview with Manager of Opposition Business Paul Fletcher MP

Peter Stefanovic: Now joining us live is Manager of Opposition Business Paul Fletcher. Paul thank you for your time this morning. So how strange it be for you today sitting on the opposite side

Paul Fletcher: Today is obviously an important day. The Parliament resumes sitting, Labor has taken a very long time to convene the Parliament. Obviously the election was May 21 and more than two months later before the Parliament's really resumed. Obviously a lot of overseas travel for Mr. Albanese in that intervening time. The Parliament is a very important mechanism for scrutiny and accountability. We're determined to do our job as an effective opposition holding the Government to account. Question Time will start tomorrow and of course all of the other processes, the House, a lot of formal things occurring today, election of the speaker and other things but we've heard a lot from Mr. Burke and Mr. Albanese about wanting to have the Parliament operate better, so it's time for them to walk their talk.

Peter Stefanovic: But as you point out there, the delays as a result of the Prime Minister going to some pretty important events overseas, there's none of those that you would have struck out?

Paul Fletcher: Well, the point I'd make is that the timetable that the Labor government has established for the Parliament is 40 sitting days for 2022, that's the lightest parliamentary workload for a very long time. Now there's a lot of rhetoric from Mr. Burke and Mr. Albanese about having the Parliament work more effectively, more respectful politics and so on. The Parliament does need to work effectively, t's a very important forum, scrutiny of what the doing and that's certainly a job that the Opposition will be taking very, very seriously but I think there are real questions to be asked as to why it's taken so long to convene the Parliament and why the parliamentary sitting schedule is as light as it is.

Peter Stefanovic: But I mean that's… was it last year, 48 sitting days. It's only couple of weeks less than that.

Paul Fletcher: This is the lightest sitting year. The lightest this year in terms of sitting days for a very long time and if you look at previous years where there's been an election admittedly there are generally fewer sitting weeks in an election year. But even so, this less than has been the practise over past years. So certainly Mr. Burke and Mr. Albanese have talked a lot about the Parliament and its importance. Well, the Parliament is very important, the Opposition will certainly be using this week and every week to hold the Government to account on matters how quickly they've jumped to do the bidding of the CFMMEU, their union masters lobbying the ABCC, the Australian Building Construction Commission. That's bad news, it's bad news for the construction sector. It means more union power being exercised and construction costs going up and of course thuggery and intimidation so despite the rhetoric about a new, kinder, gentler politics the Labor Government is still very much jumping to the tune of their union masters, and particularly the CFMMEU, who of course are very big donors to Labor.

Peter Stefanovic: The Coalition is already showing signs of division though when it comes to climate and on closing the border to Indonesia, some had wanted it closed some don't how you position yourselves in opposition?

Paul Fletcher: Well as the Leader of the Opposition has said we will be constructive where we think that's appropriate and he's certainly called out national security for example. At the same time we will holding the Government to account in a whole range of areas. That's our role as an Opposition. We obviously a lot of experienced people in the Liberal and National teams experienced ministers, will be carefully watching things. Just this week it was disclosed that they've chopped $20 million, which was committed under the 5G innovation initiative in my former portfolio of Communications, of that 2 million was specifically allocated to Western Sydney. So that was major program to support innovation technology and that's just been chopped by the Labor Government. So, there's plenty of things that we will be scrutinising them on and using all the forms of Parliament to do that. But of course, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, we will also provide appropriate support on matters of national security and other things, while at the same time making sure that this Government doing everything we can make sure that this Government acts appropriately when it comes to national security and other matters.

Peter Stefanovic: All right, Paul Fletcher, thanks for your time.