You would think that the once-proud Australian Labor Party maybe would have a position themselves on something as important as large income tax cuts to help stimulate the economy and return wealth to the Australian people. You'd think they might have their own policy position on that given the nature of their party and their dreams one day to be in government. But instead, you have this absurd situation where apparently they're going to hold a shadow cabinet meeting this afternoon after Senator Patrick, Senator Griff, Senator Lambie and others come to a position.
Can I just comment on some of the other contributions to this debate on the need to suspend standing orders. I note that Senator Watt used the word 'confused' a number of times; he was confused about where things are at and how things are going. I think I can understand Senator Watt's confusion. My understanding of where the Australian Labor Party are with the tax cuts legislation is that their position on how they're going to vote this evening on tax cuts is going to be determined by wherever Centre Alliance and the other crossbenchers come to.
You would think that the once-proud Australian Labor Party maybe would have a position themselves on something as important as large income tax cuts to help stimulate the economy and return wealth to the Australian people. You'd think they might have their own policy position on that given the nature of their party and their dreams one day to be in government. But instead, you have this absurd situation where apparently they're going to hold a shadow cabinet meeting this afternoon after Senator Patrick, Senator Griff, Senator Lambie and others come to a position. Then they'll determine what their position is. I have great respect for Senator Patrick and Centre Alliance, and other senators in this place, but I cannot understand why the once-proud Australian Labor Party is outsourcing their policy development to a couple of senators in South Australia. How low has the Australian Labor Party dropped to that that is the state of affairs that we are now seeing?
This suspension motion has nothing to do with policy. It has nothing to do with transparency. It has nothing to do with good government. This motion is just a way for the Australian Labor Party to prevent Australians having tax cuts. That's what they are trying to do this afternoon. They are trying to delay. They haven't come to a position themselves. They are trying to delay Australians getting the benefit of a tax cut. That's why this suspension motion should be rejected. We should deal with these matters that are important and that were central to the recent federal election campaign. We should get back to the job of dealing with those and those substantive matters right now.
As I have said in the last couple of weeks, the Australian government takes seriously the need to have competitive gas prices in this country and to do so in a way which continues to track investment in gas supply. In my view, in the last couple of years we have approached this important matter in a considered and diligent fashion. We have also done so in a collaborative way with all stakeholders—with the users of gas in this country. We've had many conversations and meetings with gas users, the manufacturing users of Australia, the Energy Users Association of Australia and the gas producers as well. In the last two years wholesale gas prices have fallen by 20 per cent. We have gone from a situation two years ago where the Queensland coal seam gas industry was barely supplying gas for a few months to the rest of Australia, in net terms, to today Queensland coal seam gas supplying 25 per cent of the east coast market—over 100 petajoules a year. It's been a very good outcome for our gas markets. It's provided a lot of gas into the system, albeit I recognise that our prices are still much higher than they were before.
On that front, six years ago, when the trains in Gladstone started to be built and constructed, when the Australian Labor Party were in government, no-one looked at what effect building six trains in Gladstone, and establishing a massive gas export industry, would have on the domestic market. No-one looked at this. The shadow energy minister of the Labor Party, Mark Butler, has since said, 'Everybody knew at the time that gas prices would go up,' yet they still did nothing back in 2012 when they approved these projects. We don't want to see that happen again. That's why we have been the first government to put export gas controls in place. We have done so in a methodical way, as I've said. We've done so in a way that will continue to make any developments in this area in that fashion. What we won't do is the kind of ad hoc response the Australian Labor Party is adopting.
In the last two weeks the Australian Labor Party has had three different positions on gas. Two weeks ago their shadow minister for resources, Joel Fitzgibbon, told Fran Kelly, on Radio National:
We want a bipartisan approach to this. It's too important for politics. We want to be part of the solution not part of the problem. I have already had a discussion with Matt Canavan on this issue. We need to work together to get this right.
I agree with and support those sentiments. Then today I came into the chamber and Senator Pratt moved a motion to trigger gas export controls today. Do it today! That's not exactly bipartisan. That's completely inconsistent with your own shadow minister. You're a complete and utter rabble.
Then also today Matt Keogh, your member for Burt, when he was asked on Sky News about gas triggers and gas reservation, said: 'I think it's a concern. We want to see the detail of this, because I don't want to see the government do anything that creates a sovereign risk.' Then his own senator, from Western Australia, comes in here and moves a motion to create sovereign risk. The Australian Labor Party is absolute rabble and that is why we should deny this motion.