Second Reading

Danny O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (10:49): I am not pleased to rise and speak on this motion again, because we are, frankly, getting a bit sick of it on this side, and I am sure those opposite are too. But there is a very simple solution to this: have some respect for this chamber, have some respect for the people of Victoria and have some respect for the stakeholders involved with this piece of legislation. And do not be surprised, as each of them over on the other side seem to be, every time we speak against these 13-day resolutions. Why do you think we do it? We do not argue for the sake of arguing. We know very well the modus operandi of this government: if they move to 13 days and we stop objecting to it, then what happens? Then they will just start to introduce bills on the Thursday and move for 12 days. And they will start to say, ‘Let’s just do –

James Newbury interjected.

Danny O’BRIEN: We have had that, member for Brighton. We have had bills rushed through with one or two days notice that we did not even get to see. That is the reason that we make what would seem to the average member of the public to be a frivolous objection – what does one day matter. Well, one day does matter when it becomes two days and then three days and then four days. It is again a reflection of the lack of respect that the government has for the traditions of this Parliament, for the forms of this Parliament, for the Westminster system and for the people who would be interested in this bill.

I am interested in the comments of the member for Albert Park. This comes from every speaker on the government side when this debate comes up – ‘Don’t you have time to read it? Can’t you read that fast?’ How many members of the government backbench up there are actually reading every bill that they speak on? Have you actually read every bill? I want honest answers, because we know how it works in government – you do not read the bill. You might get a briefing at caucus before the bill is introduced, if you are lucky. I suspect you do not even get that – ‘they’ do not even get that, sorry, Deputy Speaker. ‘When it comes to debating it, here are some Premier’s private office talking points, here are the ministerial talking points – go your hardest.’ We know. We listen to what they say. It is basically the same every time. You get told, ‘Here’s the bill. This is what we’re doing. Get up and speak in favour of it.’ So to suggest to the opposition ‘Oh, well, you haven’t got time to read it because you can’t read fast enough’ or ‘You don’t really understand what’s going on’ – have a bit of respect for the people of Victoria who are also not in the caucus briefings, who are also not getting the talking points and being told what to say. They need to know what this is. Now, this is – what was it, member for Brighton – 171 pages, this legislation. It has at least a five-page second-reading speech alone. I did listen to the minister introducing it and first reading it yesterday. It amends multiple pieces of legislation – one, two, three, four, five, six pieces of legislation and other acts on the end of it, so more than six other pieces of legislation. I can wager you, Deputy Speaker, that not one single person on the government benches, probably even including the minister, will read the full 171 pages of this bill as the shadow minister will have to do, as the stakeholders will have to do and as members in the other place will probably have to do if they want to understand this bill. But no, they say, ‘No, no, just get on with it. What are you worried about? Trust us. We’ve got plenty of time.’

I might add, too, that there is no particular rush with this legislation. This is an issue that was dealt with by the Parliament earlier this year through a private members bill in the other place. Both the government and the opposition opposed changes to legalising cannabis for drivers, and this may well be good legislation. I certainly had an open mind at the time, but 171 pages for a very serious matter like road safety is being rushed through and they are saying trust us, we have got it all right. As the member for Brighton said, this government constantly – in fact the bill that we will be debating in a moment contains a number of patch-ups, a number of amendments, to things that were missed or fixed or were not done correctly the first time. Most likely there will be something in this too, and to not give the community the full traditional time period to actually go through a 171-page bill just again shows the lack of respect that the government has for the Parliament, for this chamber, for the people of Victoria and for the stakeholders who will be interested in this. The government should have more respect for the community and have more respect for this Parliament, and they should be on notice that if the government continues to do this, the opposition will continue to oppose it, as we do today.

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