In Parliament

Motion - Government Business Program



Tuesday, 20 June 2023.

Mr NEWBURY (Brighton) (12:28):

The Coalition will oppose the Government Business Program, and I will explain why in a moment. Can I start by picking up where the Leader of the House ended, and that was on values.

What the House did just prior to this debate was, with the Government using its numbers, vote down the introduction of a Bill which we could have considered this week and which we should have considered this week. In fact, had it not been for the vote that just took place, the Government would have been debating better standards in Victoria.

Mary-Anne Thomas: On a point of order, Speaker, of course the government business debate is an opportunity to talk about the Government Business Program, and I ask that you call the Manager of Opposition Business, who should know better than that, to actually talk to the Government Business Program instead of using the opportunity to sledge the Government.

James NEBURY: On the point of order, Speaker, it is entirely within order to talk about the proposed business of the house this week, and that is what I was doing.

The SPEAKER: I would encourage Members to speak to the Government Business Program without any additional comments around the Government Business Program.

James NEWBURY: Thank you, Speaker. Had we had the opportunity, we would have been dealing with that Bill tomorrow. This Government Business Program displays what the Government has been doing over recent weeks and has been called out for, and that is mismanaging the house.

We, the Coalition, contacted the government and sought an opportunity to talk about the Mental Health and Wellbeing Amendment Bill 2023 in detail, which was an opportunity for the house to go into the detail of the Bill – look at each clause and work through the mechanics of the Bill, for those that are watching. That is the process of consideration in detail in this place.

The Government declined to provide the Opposition with that opportunity despite clearly not being able to fill its week with its Government Business Program. This term the Coalition has not had an opportunity to go into consideration in detail, and to be fair, going into the detail of a Bill is something that this Government is not known for providing time for in their program. In fact, it is effectively as rare as hen’s teeth for this Chamber to –

Danny O’Brien: Twice in my time, I think – three times in my nine years.

James NEWBURY: Three times in nine years the House has been provided with an opportunity to look at the detail of a Bill through a consideration-in-detail process. So, for that reason alone we will be opposing the Government Business Program.

The Government Business Program more broadly speaks to the mismanagement of the house – the Government’s lack of control of its time and also its legislative program. Controlling a legislative program is one of the most important things that a government does – works out how they turn an idea into reality through law. That does require several steps – through cabinet, through internal processes, through Parliament – and what we are seeing is that there has been a go-slow on what the government is doing. We are seeing this Chamber filled with debates around motions, debates that frankly have no meaningful impact on the way this State is legislated.

Mary-Anne Thomas interjected.

The SPEAKER: Leader of the House!

James NEWBURY: I understand that the Leader of the House is embarrassed about being called out. I understand that. But this debate is an opportunity to shine a light on the Government’s mismanagement of this place. We are seeing that on a daily basis. We are seeing that in the way the Government is not allowing debates on items on the Notice Paper, and we are seeing both the Coalition and the Greens regularly now get up and speak to their frustrations about the Parliament not being given an opportunity to debate matters of importance.

For example, I just raised a number of matters in the education portfolio that the House should be considering – but they are not the only ones. There is an important Motion that the Nationals have put on the Notice Paper in regard to a regional sitting, a very important motion – that the Assembly should be taking itself out into the regions to speak to the broader community beyond Melbourne.

These issues are not being debated in this Chamber, and of course on that basis we will be opposing the Government Business Program and calling on the Government to do a heck of a lot better with managing this place.