Danny O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (12:47): Thank you very much, Speaker. I am pleased to rise because the member for Ovens Valley, as the member for Mordialloc has indicated, is not doing his job and I am going to step in for him. That is a joke; the member for Ovens Valley is an excellent local member and is always speaking on bills.
I am pleased that the member for Mordialloc had that point of order for the last 30 seconds, because he had clearly run out of things to say, a bit like the government has more broadly, and that is why we are debating this here today and why the Manager of Opposition Business has indicated our opposition to the government business program. This is actually getting to be unprecedented. I have been in this place for 4000 or 5000 years, it seems – no, a bit over eight years now – and in the first two terms that I was here we never had motions put up as part of the government business program or simply to fill the week’s sitting of Parliament, because the government actually had an agenda. Very clearly we are seeing now a government that has got to its third term and has just completely run out of puff. It has blown the budget, it has got all sorts of problems happening with corruption, with IBAC reports coming out, and it now does not have –
Mary-Anne Thomas: On a point of order, Speaker, again I ask that you remind those opposite that this is a narrow procedural motion. It is not an opportunity to make a range of untrue allegations in relation to the government or indeed to cast aspersions on our intentions here in this place.
The SPEAKER: Order! A point of order needs to be succinct. The member for Gippsland South will come back to the motion before the house.
Danny O’BRIEN: Thank you, Speaker. The point remains that we are opposing this motion, the government business program, this week because the government is not focused on the things that will improve the lives of Victorians. It is putting up motions – as the Manager of Opposition Business calls them, ‘sledge motions’ – to play politics, to fill the Parliament’s time with playing politics.
We just had the Minister for the State Electricity Commission put up a motion about the federal opposition leader. What sort of government with a strong agenda has to talk about the federal opposition leader and what they are doing? Here is a government that has run out of ideas. They have run out of ideas so they are putting up motions like this, and we saw them. The irony of the Leader of the House raising a point of order before that the Manager of Opposition Business stay on the topic of this narrow procedural debate, when she spent half of her contribution speaking about the bills that are before us this week, is unbelievable.
I want to make a point also on the procedures of the house, which this is actually about, and the comments about the 13-day situation. The government again is unable to manage its legislative program to have bills ready to debate on a Tuesday, so it has to actually circumvent the traditions of the house and go to 13 days. With the two gambling bills this week, the minute they were introduced in the previous sitting week we were out consulting with stakeholders, but there are stakeholders who are still coming back to us this week. Not us – I do not want to hear anyone saying, ‘You’re lazy; you’re not getting your work done.’ There are stakeholders still assessing the impact of the legislation that the government has brought in. You might just say, ‘Oh, thirteen days – you haven’t got time to do it’, but it is the stakeholders, it is Victorians and it is people who are affected by legislation that need the opportunity to have as much time as possible to understand the issues that they are dealing with.
I take up the interjection and the comment from the member for Mordialloc before about those speakers and how wonderful the government backbench is because ‘We have 10 speakers to your one’. Well, it is pretty easy to do 10 speeches when the Premier’s private office has given it to you, isn’t it? We sit here all the time, and with due respect, we hear the same speech over and over and over again. It is like last term, where we would regularly, every week, ask to go into consideration in detail and the then Leader of the House would say, ‘We’ll see; we’ll see if we’ve got time’. We never had time because we had to hear the same speech 10 times from those opposite. It was just a lack of respect for the Parliament and for the ability to have all members, including non-government members, have their say.
The irony is that we have a government with no agenda having to put up motions to debate because it has not got the agenda and yet at the same time not allowing the Greens and not allowing the opposition to put forward private members business and have it debated. You can vote it down. You have got the numbers. You have apparently got some with wit and intelligence on that side who can debate against these bills –
The SPEAKER: Order! Through the Chair, member for Gippsland South.
Danny O’BRIEN: My apologies, Speaker.
The SPEAKER: I remind members not to say ‘you’; it is a reflection on the Chair.
Danny O’BRIEN: Thank you, Speaker. The government needs to get its act together.