Program - Business of the House

November 11, 2019

I too rise to oppose the government business program for this sitting week, and the reason that I oppose the government’s program for this sitting week is that the bill that was meant to be debated tomorrow, the Building and Environment Protection Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, has disappeared. I was delighted to receive a briefing from the Minister for Planning’s office last week, and I genuinely appreciate that. They are always very, very, forthcoming and very available to brief the shadow minister, which is an important part of our system. They were not even aware—well, they were aware; they had been told at the same time that we had been informed—that for whatever reason their bill was also not being debated this week. I think the Leader of the House owes the Minister for Planning an apology for blindsiding him in such a way, and equally I do not understand why this bill is not being treated with the urgency that it deserves. The Minister for Planning went on Ross and John two weeks ago and said that it was quite outrageous behaviour and that there was an imperative of passing this law as quickly as possible to clamp down on illegal phoenixing. Now, illegal phoenixing is a very important issue in Australia. PwC estimates it costs the Australian economy between $2.85 billion and $5.13 billion every year. Indeed the commonwealth government have a bill before the federal Parliament—the Treasury Laws Amendment (Combating Illegal Phoenixing) Bill 2019—so my federal colleagues are very concerned about this issue, and I was very, very keen to debate this important bill. I was very keen to see this bill before the Parliament this week. I would have thought that if the government had wanted to pass this bill before the end of the year, they would have been debating it this week, because based on this timetable it will not be in the upper house until next year. So we had the big drop to the Age on 29 October, and we had the Minister for Planning, who tends to be a relatively shy media performer these days, going on Ross and John to trumpet his new reform, and lo and behold the Leader of the House undermines him, undercuts him, and we are not debating this bill this week.

Ms Allan: On a point of order, Deputy Speaker, I ask that you pull the member back to being relevant to the debate before the house, which is the matter to do with the government business program. The member is correct in identifying that the planning bill he is interested in is not on the program for this week, and I think it is probably reasonable for him to refer to it, but his entire 3‑minute contribution has been around this matter and has also included references to and insinuations against me and my role in this. Quite simply it is up to the government to bring the bills into the Parliament. How we schedule those bills is a prerogative of the government, taking into account a whole range of different factors. As I have identified, a key factor for this week was the inclusion of the Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and Other Matters) Bill 2019 and allowing a significant amount of time for that bill to be debated. Given the member has had 3 minutes to canvass his views and he has made his views clear, and there has been close work with the Minister for Planning on the setting of this government business program, I would simply ask you to bring the member back to the motion that is before the house.

Mr Wells: On the point of order, Deputy Speaker, this bill is a very important bill, and it has been flagged by the government to be a very important bill. The shadow Minister for Planning, the member for Kew, has every right to be able to put to the house and question the reasons why that particular urgent bill is no longer part of the business program, so I would ask you to rule the Leader of the House’s point of order out of order.

Mr Pakula: On the point of order, Deputy Speaker, I just note that the member for Kew looked keen for the member for Rowville to sit down so that he could continue his contribution, with 32 seconds to go! I just wonder why the member for Rowville was purposely eating up the member for Kew’s time?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. I make a ruling on the point of order: the member for Kew has had an opportunity to make passing reference to what his expectations are of the government business program, but the member for Kew has failed as yet to address the government business program. I ask him to do so.

T Smith - In the 7 seconds that I have left, if you are not prepared to debate things two weeks hence, do not let them be adjourned to that date.