‘GOVERNMENT BUSINESS PROGRAM’.
Tuesday, 21 March 2023.
Mr NEWBURY (Brighton) (12:18):
The Coalition will be opposing the Government Business Program.
Those that were watching the debate on the Government Business Program in the last sitting week will note that part of the debate was about the government moving a Government Business Program forward that lacked detail. It simply made as a final point that there could be items considered by the Parliament that week that were on the Notice Paper – and clearly that cuts against the grain of the concept of what the Government Business Program is all about.
But they were listening. The Government was listening; I have to give them some credit. This week they have come back with a program, and they have actually listed their items that they want to debate. Unfortunately, what they have confirmed in writing for the world to see, for Victorians to see, is that they want to waste the Parliament’s time. They want to use Parliament’s time to sledge the Opposition. That is purely what the Parliament will be doing this afternoon. The Government are going to waste time and debate a motion moved by the Government which is effectively a Matter of Public Importance item or a Grievance Debate item, because they have no program. And the reason they have no program is because in the last sitting week a number of Bills were introduced on Wednesday, not Tuesday, and so today the notice paper is spare and there is nothing for them to debate. So what do they have to debate this afternoon? They have to debate a Coalition sledge motion. What a waste of the Parliament’s time.
Not only is there that item, but the Government has also listed for potential debate the Statute Law Amendment Bill 2022.
For those that were watching, that was a Bill that was introduced in the last Parliament, but it is a different Bill in this Parliament. We on this side of the House are very disappointed that our side of the House and the non-Government benches have been refused a Bill briefing on the Bill. Outrageous. It is outrageous that the Government is now so arrogant it would refuse a Bill briefing – a
longstanding tradition not just of this place but of Parliaments full stop – to brief the non-Government benches on a Bill. The Government’s line on that is that the bill is not a new bill. Well, it is a different Bill. It is not the same Bill that was introduced in the last Parliament, and so we have a Bill before this place and a Government who have confirmed in writing they are not willing to provide a Bill briefing. Outrageous. It is a Bill that has already gone through the Council without a Bill briefing. The sheer arrogance and lack of courtesy I think is staggering. It is perhaps not surprising to all but disappointing nevertheless.
There are a number of other issues that we will deal with this week. I note that the Leader of the House moved a motion relating to some Committee changes, and I appreciate that.
I will note that the second part of the motion that was moved, which the Leader of the House has noted will be dealt with tomorrow, in relation to the Standing Orders Committee will change the proportion of the Standing Orders Committee, and it will change the proportion such that there will be more Labor Members on that Committee than there were in the last Parliament. Every Victorian should be looking at these changes the Government are bringing in with a very watchful eye, because effectively they are trying to increase their proportion – some might use the term stacked out – on a very important Committee that will deal with Standing Orders. That debate tomorrow will be had because the Standing Orders Committee is a very important Committee in this place. As someone who has a keen eye on the Standing Orders of this place, I hope the Speaker will note over time my obsession with the Standing Orders. The Standing Orders Committee is
a very important committee, and I think it is important that proportions on Committees are not misused by the Government in a way that diminishes the non-Government Members’ view.
We have seen just in terms of the management of the Standing Orders that the non-Government business dealt with by this place by comparison to other Parliaments is quite shameful and obvious. So for all of those reasons, the Coalition will be opposing the Government Business Program this week. I thank the Government for being more specific in the Program and confirming their use of the Parliament’s time in a wasteful way.