In Parliament

Motion - Government Business Program



Tuesday, 7 March 2023.

Mr NEWBURY (Brighton) (12:27):

It was a great shock when we received the Government Business Program this week, when it was sent out to the opposition and crossbench parties on Thursday afternoon, as is the normal way. In addition to the bills described by the minister – and I will speak to them shortly – there was also a note on the program that the Government intended to speak to and put motions listed on the notice paper. There was no detail as to what any of those motions would be, the substance of what would be debated, which I think runs contrary to the concept of the government business program in and of itself.

And just before we started the debate on the government business program, the Government moved a motion which I am sure many Members of this place will want to speak to, and that is to acknowledge and support International Women’s Day this week. I am sure there are a number of speakers who will want to speak to that motion, on all sides of the chamber, and it was, frankly, disappointing to hear about the motion 1 minute before the Government Business Program debate commenced. I would have thought that a Government who intended to be apolitical in the way that the Parliament proceeds – putting our best foot forward in terms of speaking to issues of importance for our State – would at least have a conversation about what the Government intends to do.

Although this motion is one that of course we wholeheartedly support and willspeak to with gusto, there are other motions on the notice paper that have been put forward by the Leader of the House which are not in the same vein. I note that there is one particular motion on the Notice Paper that I internally call the Leader
of the House’s sledge motion, which is frankly a Grievance Debate or Matter of
Public Importance –

A member: Irrelevant.

James NEWBURY: entirely relevant – which is just a sledge on the Opposition. So when the government put forward what they intended to do this week, it would not have surprised anybody, I would have thought, that the Opposition was concerned that there were not the details provided on what the Government intended to do. Just simply saying ‘We will debate stuff’ is not good enough, especially when we know what the Government is hiding on the notice paper. And though I know that the Leader moved a motion just a moment ago in good faith – and we appreciate the substance of that motion – it was moved without any notice, any discussion.

When the Leader of the House spoke to the busyness of this Parliament, I note that the Parliament has been so busy and the Government has such a strong schedule of what it intends to do that last week when we debated a particular Amendment to a motion a number of the Ministers were wandering around the chamber cock-a-hoop saying they did not have enough to do so they were really happy to be having the debate–so I am not sure that that argument stands them in good stead. There are instances where we would seek to put bills into the consideration-in-detail stage and the government has not provided us with that opportunity, especially bills that are particularly detailed.

In terms of the substance of the week, I certainly want to mention the Heritage Amendment Bill 2023, and I am sure the Chamber will have a debate on that Bill. The issue of heritage is one that I think many members of this place have been touched by and have had constituents raise with them over very important issues and failures in the system, for want of a better term, in terms of protecting the properties and protecting the sites that we need to protect and that the current rules and regulations do not to the extent that they should.

There are a number of inaugural speeches that will be completed today, one of which will be by the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon. I feel very confident that the whole Parliament will look forward to hearing that contribution from someone who has just achieved enormous things by coming back into this place and who is now the Leader of the Opposition.

On the basis of the lack of detail, we will not be supporting the Government Business Program for the reasons set out both in principle and also in substance. I would hope that in the future the Government when they set out their Government business program actually list on that program what they intend to do.