Business of the House
Danny O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (17:04): I think the sessional orders as introduced in 2014 and proposed again to be introduced for this 60th Parliament have been an improvement on the standing orders, particularly things like supplementary questions during question time and the introduction of constituency questions. They have been good, and we certainly support that, but there is no question that we could do better. The fact that there is such little opportunity for non-government members, particularly the opposition, to raise issues, to have substantive debates about issues and particularly to introduce legislation is one of the failings that we have. Second is the fact that we rarely get the opportunity to go into consideration in detail; indeed in my time I have only had that opportunity once. I think we might have had two opportunities in the last term of Parliament, but that is a significant failing because often we are dealing with very complex legislation and we want to interrogate that legislation and ask the minister questions about it. The one time that we did get to do it, we got some answers that were useful for the community.
We all remember the former Leader of the House in the last term giving, whenever we asked just about every week, ‘Can we go into consideration in detail on this particular legislation?’, the same answer I give to my little girl when she wants a puppy: ‘We’ll see’. We always got ‘We’ll see’ but we never actually got to do it. I think a Standing Orders Committee review is the appropriate thing to do, because, as the member for Brighton has indicated, there are some opportunities for us to introduce things like non-government business and to have, potentially, a second chamber. These are all things we should be looking at.
A member: Buy her a puppy.
Danny O’BRIEN: She’s not getting a puppy. As a country MP, I remember coming into this place when family-friendly hours were introduced, and I did not really understand what it was all about, because for those of us from the country, we do not go home anyway. I do accept that it is –
Mary-Anne Thomas: It is not all about you.
Danny O’BRIEN: It is about you too, Leader of the House.
The SPEAKER: Order! Through the Chair.
Danny O’BRIEN: I think the amendments moved by the member for Brighton are very appropriate and should be pursued, and I will be strongly supporting those. We should be reviewing the standing orders and making sure that the Parliament operates more as a Parliament, not like an executive as it is run now by the Premier. That is important. The member for Mordialloc has come back. He had a bit of a critique of those of us on this side on bills. If we did not get 15 carbon-copy speeches on every bill, written by the Premier’s office, from those opposite, we would save a lot of time.