Business of the house – Program

Mr D O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (12:38): I will just say a few words on the big and ambitious agenda that the Leader of the House talked about. I pick up the member for Frankston’s comment about how much the government supports small business—so much so that they did not actually have this legislation ready to go, this commercial tenancy rent relief, the bill that we will be debating today. It had to be brought on quickly because the government suddenly realised it should have done something to support small business. Apparently that is not something that might have come to their mind in the last 12 or 18 months; it is something that they have just thought of in the last couple of days—‘Perhaps we need to add something in’.

That big and ambitious agenda that the Leader of the House talked about may well or well not be true, but it is also a shambles the way that that agenda is put together constantly in this place. We see it this week, as the member for Rowville said. On Thursday and Friday we get the government business program. Occupational health and safety, police informants—no problem, we will tell our colleagues to get prepared for these bills. Then on Monday afternoon, ‘Oh, throw all that out, we’ve got a completely different idea. We’ve suddenly discovered we need to support small business, member for Frankston, and we’re actually going to bring in a commercial rent relief situation’.

Likewise, the Judicial Proceedings Reports Amendment Bill 2021, which is on the agenda this week. Where is the rush with this? Where has this been for 12 months? We told the government this 12 months ago. A member in the other place, Ed O’Donohue, the shadow minister, has been campaigning on this, as have numerous media outlets, as have victims of crime and their families. This was abundantly obvious to everyone, yet suddenly at the last minute we are going to have to rush a piece of legislation in with no opportunity for the opposition to talk in detail to the community and to all those people—this just gets rushed in. That is one of the reasons that we are certainly going to be opposing the shambles this week.

The other is the consideration in detail. The member for Rowville is very comprehensive in his contributions, but he did miss one thing this week. Normally when we ask to go into—

A member interjected.

Mr D O’BRIEN: Absolutely you should throw the pen. You should be a little bit embarrassed about this. Normally when we ask to go into consideration in detail on a bit of legislation we get the usual response, which is what? It is—

A member: We’ll see if there’s enough time.

Mr D O’BRIEN: ‘We’ll see if there’s enough time’, ‘If you’re well behaved’, ‘We’ll consider it when your dad gets home’—all those sorts of excuses we get. But today we did not even get that. Today we just got ‘It’s noted that the opposition has requested time for consideration in detail’. We have gone backwards. We are not even getting the ‘Maybe later’. We are not even getting the ‘We’ll see’. We are just getting a straight-out ‘It’s been noted’. It is pretty clear what the answer is to that in that the government does not want us to go into consideration in detail on the Police Informants Royal Commission Implementation Monitor Bill 2021. That is another reason why we are certainly opposing the government business program this week—the government business program that we are being presented with today, I should add, just in case it does happen to change again, because who knows with a government that tells the media first before it tells the Parliament, let alone the shadow minister for a particular portfolio. That is the approach that we have got, and who knows what might change?

I might add that the member for Rowville mentioned how journalists were first to know about the introduction of the judicial review bill. It does remind me a little bit of the COVID updates, where it is journalists that seem to know what is happening with COVID each day, or with restrictions. I am not sure why the government does not just cut out the middleman and get Rich Willingham and Raf Epstein to do their press conferences on COVID. It would save us all a lot of time. They are the ones who always find out about anything first.

When it comes to the government business program the government is somewhat of a shambles as well. It is not telling the Parliament. It is not giving the Parliament the courtesy of acknowledging what is actually happening this week, and with legislation like the judicial review bill I think it is pretty poor form that the shadow minister finds out from the media that there is some legislation coming in when we have already been told what the government’s intentions are this week. That is why we will be opposing this business program. I for one cannot wait to have that extra week of sitting, because there are so many issues for us to raise from our communities, so much angst out there, so many more questions to put to the Premier, to the ministers, to the Treasurer, to the Leader of the House. I look forward to coming back, and I will be very happy to be here in December for those sittings.

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