Business of the house – Program

Mr D O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (15:04): Well, that went well. There were some zingers in there, member for Mount Waverley—really, really good. I am pleased to rise to speak on this, but I am always perplexed when the Leader of the House gets up with great optimism, and the member for Mount Waverley also has great optimism. Every week with the government business program there is one thing we ask for—one thing. We ask if we can go into what the member for Mount Waverley said is an open and transparent process, actually go into consideration in detail. And the Leader of the House every time says she is optimistic and she is hopeful that we might support her, but every time she fails to give us what we ask for.

It is pretty simple: if you want us to support the government business program, give us a bit of that open and transparent process and let us go into consideration in detail, which, as the member for Ripon has pointed out, is all we want to do on the Livestock Management Amendment (Animal Activism) Bill 2021, which we have been waiting for for years. As the member for Ripon quite rightly pointed out, this is a bill that was pushed by the Leader of The Nationals. I want to give great credit here to my colleague in the other place Melina Bath, without whose work on the committee that looked into this issue we would not have had this recommendation and would not have had the government dragged kicking and screaming into introducing some penalties for people who invade farms, so great credit to her. We want to actually debate this bill. I am not giving away any secrets. I think the member for Ripon has already said we are happy to support this bill, but there are a couple of things we would like to pursue a bit further, things we can improve. We would do that if we had the openness and transparency that this government likes to talk about and if it allowed us to go into consideration in detail. I continue on that. I liked the words of the Leader of the House when she said that these three bills had been well ventilated—boom, boom! Right on message—we have got the ventilators, the air purifiers in here. So these bills have been well ventilated, according to the Leader of the House, a bit like the pandemic bill before Christmas was well ventilated—oh, no, hang on, we had three days to consider that one. But for legislation of great importance, like the Regulatory Legislation Amendment (Reform) Bill 2021, we get months. The record of this government should stand: when it comes to openness and transparency, when it is something important, there is none from this government.

I also would like to just pick up—and it is great to be back here; we are here to do our job and it is great to have a full chamber—that the Leader of the House mentioned that we have got the full, normal operation of the house. I do not know whether anyone else was interested to note during question time where the government members were. I looked across to my left, where there is normally quite a lot of noise coming from. There was no-one here in the supposed full operation of the house.

Ms Allan: I have a point of order on two matters, Deputy Speaker. One is on relevance. The presence of members in the chamber is not a subject canvassed by this motion directly. However, I will also note that when I discussed in my contribution the arrangements that have been put in place for this sitting week, I did directly go to the point that the discussion that the Manager of Opposition Business and I had was that we would collectively work, where we can, to see if we can get the numbers down in the chamber just a little bit to manage the safe operation of the house. It is the agreement I have with the Manager of Opposition Business. The fact that there are so few members on that side of the house, thanks to the decision of the Victorian community at the 2018 election, is a matter for them, and I would ask that the member for Gippsland South not cast those sorts of negative aspersions on my colleagues.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I uphold the point of order, and I ask the member for Gippsland South to come back to the government business program.

Mr D O’BRIEN: Thank you, Deputy Speaker. I am glad I have been schooled and educated. I noticed when we started up this morning the entire chamber was in here, so it is beyond me as to why there were so many disappearing from question time. But anyway, it has been explained. I would just like to finish up by saying the actual bills on the government business program are quite pertinent to the last couple of years. We have got health legislation, we have got regulation legislation—we have all lived under all sorts of regulations for the last couple of years—and we have got livestock, and that is probably a reference to herding cats, because that is what it has been like here in the last couple of years as well.

We continue to live in hope that one day the Leader of the House will actually listen to us and deliver some of the openness and transparency that the member for Mount Waverley talked about. But as it stands, we are still not getting the opportunity to go into consideration in detail, so we will oppose this government business program.

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