Business of the House


Danny O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (10:20): R-E-S-P-E-C-T – find out what it means to us, a bit of respect from the government for this chamber, for the non-government members of this chamber and for the people of Victoria. R-E-S-P-E-C-T – have a bit of respect. Government members say this budget is so wonderful and that it does such a good job – well, be proud of it. Give people time to actually speak on it, instead of bringing in a government business program that will reduce this to a farce and reduce the opportunities for government members, let alone non-government members, to actually speak on the appropriation bills and to speak on the other bills that the Leader of the House has put into this.

The Victorian Future Fund was announced in last year’s budget. What has the government been doing all this time, to now bring in the legislation, first read it today and plan to have it passed by tomorrow night? What is it that the government did not have organised to be able to provide this to this Parliament and to be able to provide this to the people of Victoria so that they can understand the legislation and actually have a bit of a say on it? There are billions of dollars of taxpayer funds being managed – supposedly – in this Victorian Future Fund Bill 2023, and the government wants it passed by tomorrow.

If the government is so concerned about the ability to actually debate this and get its good budget through, which they keep talking about, go back to the old arrangements. Come in on a Tuesday and do the budget and then have Wednesday and Thursday sittings. Give us a bit more time. Give everybody the opportunity to speak on the budget. But no, no, no, that does not fit in with the government’s media program, does it? It does not work with the media program. ‘We want to put our budget in. We want to go out over the next couple of days and sell the budget and then come back next week and absolutely rush it through with complete contempt for the Parliament and complete contempt for the people of Victoria.’

If the government has got nothing to hide, then it will bring forward a business program that gives this Parliament and the people of Victoria ample opportunity to debate these bills. Four different pieces of legislation – and we get one day to debate two of them. This is because the government is so unorganised, so chaotic and so out of ideas it really does not know what it is doing anymore. You would think after eight years in government it might actually have got an idea. You would think that they might have worked it out, but no. ‘Here we are. We’re into our ninth budget now, and we’re still not quite sure. We’re still rushing things through.’ We do know why they are rushing things through. The Leader of the Nationals belled the cat before: the government does not want to talk about this budget; they want to bury it – because they are responsible for the greatest debt this state has ever faced. We saw in the Age last week that Victoria has the greatest debt of 17 like states right around the world. We know that this government is responsible for more debt than New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania combined, and we know that this is a yoke around the neck of all Victorians.

That is why this government wants to get on and debate this and rush it through, so that the people of Victoria do not actually have the opportunity to understand what it is about. This government has lost control of the agenda here in the Parliament, it has lost control of the budget and it does not want the people of Victoria to know any more about it. We deserve the opportunity in this Parliament to fully scrutinise legislation. Now, whether it is the Appropriation (2023–2024) Bill 2023, whether it is the Appropriation (Parliament 2023–2024) Bill 2023 or whether it is the egregious State Taxation Acts Amendment Bill 2023 – which is going to be slugging Victorians with a jobs tax, with a schools tax, with a rent tax and with a debt tax – this is a government that has completely lost control. I mean, the rent tax – fancy introducing a rent tax at a time when housing affordability is out of control and when there is a rental crisis, and yet the government is introducing another rent tax.

It is no wonder they want to rush through these bills. It is because the government wants to hide what it is doing. This is a government that has completely lost control of the parliamentary agenda. We have seen that through this year. We have had multiple motions being debated to fill in time – something we have never seen before in my eight years in the Parliament previously, but we are filling in time because this government is arrogant, it is out of touch and it is out of ideas.

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