Business of the House – Program

Mr D O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (13:12): I am pleased to say a few words on the government business program. I reiterate what the Manager of Opposition Business said—that we will not be opposing the government business program—but I might just point out to the member for Frankston that that does not mean we are not opposing all the bills on the government business program. On that, I take great pleasure in saying you will have to wait and see where we go, because we hear that all the time from the Leader of the House.

Ms Allan: Because we have got the numbers.

Mr D O’BRIEN: Yes, you do have the numbers, and we are very well aware of it because you remind us all the time. It is also ironic that the Manager of Opposition Business talked about the health advice with respect to the sitting in the chamber this week, and there were guffaws from those opposite about the health advice and where it came from. Well, at least it is some health advice that has actually been released to the public, because there has not been any other health advice released to explain the reasons and the decisions behind why we are in lockdown again—why certain rules are made and why certain businesses are shut down and others are not. We just get told, ‘It’s the health advice’. It is becoming rather frustrating for us as MPs but more particularly for the community.

My heart goes out to those particularly who have had to shut down over the last couple of weeks, including, I might add, those in regional Victoria who are still shut down. It is very, very important to acknowledge that whilst the restrictions have been lifted, there are businesses like dance studios, gyms and indoor swimming pools that are still shut down and of course hospitality and other businesses that are severely restricted. So we are very lucky in this place that we are continuing, as we should be. Absolutely, the Parliament should be continuing to sit, and I am pleased that that has occurred.

On that, I say congratulations to the Leader of the House, the Manager of Opposition Business and the Speaker for working through the arrangements for this week. I also thank the clerks, the tour guides and all the other staff that were frantically working in here before we came in this morning to get it set up. It absolutely should be. I think the Parliament is the last thing in the state that should be shut down when there is any sort of crisis. It is absolutely important.

Ms Allan interjected.

Mr D O’BRIEN: Well, I assume that hospitals are always going to stay open, Leader of the House. But anyway, the bills this week that—

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: Order! How did we get here on the government business program debate?

Mr D O’BRIEN: I actually was, Speaker. I was still talking about the government business program.

The SPEAKER: The member for Gippsland South has the call.

Mr D O’BRIEN: Thank you very much. So, yes, on the government business program there are four bills plus the budget take-note motion, which I look forward to having a bit of a chat on. I also look forward to discussing the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Cross-boundary Greenhouse Gas Titles and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2021. I will be interested to see what some members opposite have to say about that because this is actually a bill that facilitates carbon capture and storage, so I am sure there is unanimous, 100 per cent support for it among those opposite. It is an important bill for my electorate. I again will diverge from the member for Frankston, who talked about energy policy and what great things the government is doing. Well, I do not think they are. I would say that there are many things that the Andrews government has done wrong on energy policy, particularly in the electorate that I represent and Gippsland more broadly, but I certainly will look forward to debating this legislation that will actually help establish a new industry in my electorate. We look forward to getting on with it, and I commend the government business program to the house.

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