Second Reading

Mr D O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (10:47): I am happy to say a few words about the motion to adjourn on this legislation. I am a little bit bemused by the Leader of the House’s notion that we should not have a debate because the government supports the adjournment motion. Well, if that was the case, we would not debate anything in this chamber. We have debates all the time when both sides of the house support particular legislation. It is important, though, that everyone has the opportunity to have their say, and what we are talking about here is adjourning off a piece of legislation after the second-reading speech, given by the minister at the table, the Assistant Treasurer, provided to be incorporated into Hansard, and giving the opportunity for the community to have its say on this legislation. This is a standard practice of the house, of course, but it is also a practice of the house to enable debate on any motion that is being put. Given that we are debating the adjournment of this legislation, it is important that we have the opportunity to talk to the community about bills that come before the house.

From time to time there is legislation that is put forward that needs to be debated forthwith. We had some circumstances I think last year with respect to the COVID pandemic, with the agreement of the house—the opposition working with the Leader of the House and the crossbench members and the Greens. There is agreement to at times move to debate bills forthwith. I can think of another one that is pertinent this time where the South Gippsland shire was dismissed without an adjournment of the legislation for a significant period of time because it was a matter that needed to happen very quickly. I say it is pertinent because that was two years ago and we are now at the point where the South Gippsland shire elections are currently underway, and I wish all the candidates the best and hope that we get a good, cooperative council out of those elections. But this adjournment will be important because there are a lot of things happening in the health space at the moment, very obviously, and I am interested to see, very quickly looking at the statement of compatibility and second-reading speech, that the bill changes will apply to entities such as public hospitals, multipurpose services, denominational hospitals, metropolitan—

Ms Allan: On a point of order, Speaker, I renew my previous point of order that I made during the member for Lowan’s contribution that this is a procedural debate. I am very much looking forward to the substance of the debate when we get to that, but that is not for now. This is a procedural debate on the question of whether the bill should be adjourned. Of course we are saying yes. Can I be very clear: the government wants the debate to be adjourned. However, if the opposition are so keen for this bill to be discussed in detail, we could bring it on forthwith if they would like. We could have the debate immediately. They are so keen, Speaker—

The SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the House has moved—

Ms Allan: And do you know what, Speaker? We might think about doing that. We might think about bringing some of these bills on given they are so keen to bring them on.

Mr D O’BRIEN: On the point of order, Speaker, while I accept the minister’s principle, I was actually about to get to the point of why the adjournment is important in reading out those organisations. So I would ask you to rule against the point of order.

The SPEAKER: Order! I am glad that the member indicated he is coming back to the question before the house. The member for Gippsland to speak on the motion.

Mr D O’BRIEN: Thank you. It was simply to highlight that—and I was just going through them, if I could just finish—prescribed health services, registered community health centres, the ambulance service and the Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health are the organisations that we as members of Parliament will need to discuss this legislation with. Obviously it will have significant impacts on them.

We also want to prosecute what the bill actually goes to. One of my colleagues has just reminded me of the debate in a Public Accounts and Estimates Committee hearing last year over COVID with respect to the Health Records Act 2001 and what the government could and could not do, and I note that this legislation makes some amendments to the Health Records Act 2001. Again we will be looking to see what those amendments are and discussing with the community, including those who are affected by those issues with respect to the COVID pandemic last year, whether they are relevant to the information sharing that was an issue at the time. I think it was both former Minister Mikakos and the chief health officer who said there were restrictions on what the government could do because of the Health Records Act. So there are certainly a number of things that will need to be considered during the adjournment of this legislation, and I look forward to it coming back at an appropriate time after there has been enough time for the opposition to fully consider this legislation.

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