In Parliament

Motion: Government Business Program



Tuesday, 5 March 2024.

Mr NEWBURY (Brighton) (12:23):

The Coalition will be wholeheartedly opposing the Government Business Program. How outrageous it was to hear the Leader of the House get up and say that 2 hours into debate on the cognate SEC Bills the Government will be guillotining one of the Bills. How outrageous – 2 hours in. With that in mind I move:

That the government business program resolution proposed by the Leader of the House be amended by omitting paragraph (1) and after ‘7 March 2024:’ inserting ‘Constitution Amendment (SEC) Bill 2023’.

It is outrageous to think that this Government has so mangled the SEC Bills that it now is trying to rush them through the house without any scrutiny. That is what the Government is trying to do today – rush them through the House without any scrutiny. We had a promise last year from the Government that the Bills would be done and dusted that year. They were listed on the Government Business Program and they were sent to the world at large – and then, when they realised their Members could not turn up in this place, they pulled the Bills. So, over a hundred days later, the Parliament is considering these Bills now.

The Leader of the House says that it is so important that these Bills be considered as a cognate package – that they must be considered as a cognate package – except when we all vote. How extraordinary to think that we have to consider these Bills as a package – that there must be a cognate debate.

We heard last year that the Leader of the House explained that Members on her side of the Chamber did not have the capacity to delineate between the two Bills when they were being debated – did not have the capacity, so it must be cognately debated.

Mary-Anne Thomas: On a point of order, Speaker, the Manager of Opposition Business knows that he cannot mislead the house, and he is simply making up things that he is attributing to me.

The SPEAKER: That is not a point of order, Leader of the House.

James NEWBURY: The point I will remake is that Government put to this house and passed that the two SEC bills must be considered together. It was an imperative that they be considered together. And the Government Business Program today has made it clear: except when they vote. I mean, it is extraordinary, and we know why the guillotine is being brought on one of these

Bills at 5 o’clock today. We know why: because the Government does not want any scrutiny of the detail of this Bill. That is what this is about. They do not want the media, they do not want Victorians, looking at this issue in detail. We know that is why. We know they do not want the Upper House Members thinking about the debate that is occurring in this place, and I look to all Members in this place when I speak about that matter. That is why the Government wants to rush this Bill through. That is why Governments always, when they rush bills through, want to do it – because they want to hide from the scrutiny.

And I suspect there is also a second reason, and that is: there is no capacity for the Government to hold their own Members here on Thursday. This Bill requires a special, special number in terms of the vote, and every single Thursday the Government is knocking on my door to allow more of its members to go home and to pair them off – every single Thursday. The reason why this Bill is not being debated until Thursday is because they cannot hold their numbers until Thursday. They know they cannot get their special, required vote on Thursday afternoon, so they are going to ram it through today.

It is outrageous. What is being done today is an outrageous affront to democracy. We are not considering these Bills appropriately; in fact, the Government took over 100 days to provide a Bill briefing and then just sent a political adviser to give one. It would not allow the Department to turn up. It is outrageous, the handling of these Bills. It is so obvious for the world to see. We will be moving our Amendment and dividing on our Amendment. If that unfortunately does not pass – and I live in hope that the Government has heard my speech and reconsidered – we will be opposing the Government Business Program