Censure Motion

Thursday, 6th September 2018

Mr WALSH (Murray Plains) (12:44:49) — I rise to oppose this motion in the absolutely strongest possible way. When I sat here and listened to the Deputy Premier ramble on for an hour defending the indefensible and what has gone on this particular week, I was reminded of the Painters and Dockers song You’re Going Home in the Back of a Divi Van. That is what will happen to the Deputy Premier. That is what will happen to his six fellow ministers who are actually being investigated by police — six ministers who are being investigated by the police and who will not stand aside from their jobs. You’re Going Home in the Back of a Divi Van is probably a very good theme song for that side of the house because that is what will be happening to those particular six ministers. We know a number of Labor Party staffers, the red shirts, have been arrested and investigated. It is only a matter of time before the police actually arrest and interrogate those particular six ministers.

This motion before us and this releasing of 80 000 pages of documents is a confected defence to cover up for the government’s own crimes in this state. There is a very long list of the government’s crimes in this state and they are defending the indefensible with the arguments that are being put forward today. It started back in opposition with the stealing of a dictaphone. They did not have the moral decency to actually return a dictaphone that was found at one of the Labor Party conferences. A normal person, a decent person, a person with actual morals, would have actually given that back rather than have some confected story about not knowing where it was and that they did not know who had it and then eventually copping to the fact that it was held by the Labor Party but it was damaged and they never knew whether someone listened to it or whether someone did not listen to it.

The Labor Party cannot actually tell the truth when it comes to issues where they get caught out. There is a long litany of issues that need to be canvassed when it comes to this confected motion from the Deputy Premier, because he is defending the indefensible. There is the whole red shirts campaign — the fact that a number of particularly members of this house have stood upon a legal issue between the houses and have not been interviewed by the Ombudsman. There is the fact that the Attorney‑General of this house, the top law officer in this state, the one that is charged with maintaining the integrity of the law system in this state, is actually one of the ministers who is being investigated. Worse still is that he actually spent over $1 million of taxpayers money taking the Ombudsman to court to try and stop the Ombudsman doing their job. It is just without precedent to have the top law officer in this state doing those particular things. It is an absolute disgrace.

You have got the Minister for Police, the other top law officer in this state, being a beneficiary of the red shirts campaign and again not standing aside but saying, ‘There’s some process, some mystical process out there in the ether where I am not talking to the Chief Commissioner of Police about this issue but I am actually working with the chief commissioner on another issue’. It does not pass the pub test that you have got the police minister and you have got the Attorney‑General of this state being investigated by police and still sitting on the Treasury bench, still holding their jobs in the government. If they had any sense of decency, they should have both resigned on those particular issues.

As we have talked about in this place a number of times, the member for Melton — talk about paying money back — rorted the system. He had his snout in the trough for years.

Mr Nardella — On a point of order, Speaker, I ask the honourable member to withdraw.

The SPEAKER — Order! The Leader of The Nationals has been asked to withdraw his comments.

Mr WALSH — I withdraw. So the member for Melton rorted the second residence —

Mr Nardella — On a point of order, Speaker, I ask the honourable member to withdraw and desist immediately.

The SPEAKER — Order! The member for Box Hill has raised a previous point of order in relation to imputations in this place. Imputations can only be made by way of substantive motion, and I drew the Deputy Premier back to the substantive motion before the house. The Leader of The Nationals is allowed to countenance other issues in refuting suggestions made in the motion, but I ask him not to make imputations about other members of this place.

Mr WALSH — Thank you, Speaker. Again in the litany of Labor Party misuse of taxpayer funds in this place we have had a former Deputy Speaker and a former Speaker of this house both inappropriately making claims for the second residence allowance, something that was actually set up for country members who come to Parliament and need somewhere to stay when they are in Melbourne. It is not for city MPs to decide that they want to live by the beach 80 kilometres from their electorate — or allegedly live by the beach; they were pretending to live by the beach — and claim that second residence allowance.

There has been more done in this term of Parliament to lower the community’s trust in MPs than in any other Parliament that I can remember, or any MP on our side of the house can remember. To have the two presiding officers of this house actually think that they could confect a story where they could pretend to go and live by the beach and claim that allowance I think is an absolutely disgrace and a slight on this house. It is a slight on this house and on the integrity of this house.

So we had the two officers of this house — before you, Speaker, the former Speaker and the former Deputy Speaker — who have had to resign their positions because of that misuse of the second residence allowance. Even worse, we have had the Deputy President in the upper house — the third of the four presiding officers of this Parliament — being investigated for rorting the printing allowance, and he has had to resign.

Mr Nardella — On a point of order, Speaker, the honourable member for Box Hill did raise the issue of imputations on other members, either in this house or in the other house, and standing order 118. I ask you to ask the honourable member to desist from impugning the reputation of other members either in this house or the other house. He has now done this for the third time.

Mr Clark — On the point of order, Speaker, the Leader of The Nationals was not impugning the former Deputy President. As I recall it, he was referring to a police investigation and circumstances which led to his resignation. That is not an imputation. An allegation of dishonesty is, but you previously accepted that rorting is a word that can cover a range of meanings, one of which extends to dishonesty. Others do not, and it is therefore not an imputation of dishonesty to use that term. Indeed I am not sure if the Leader of The Nationals did in relation to the Deputy President. But I submit that what the Leader of The Nationals had to say was not an imputation against the former Deputy President.

The SPEAKER — Order! I intend to allow the same use of language in this debate that the Deputy Premier used before the Leader of The Nationals. He suggested that the member was under investigation, so I do not uphold the point of order. I do warn the Leader of The Nationals, though, to be careful of impugning other members; that sits outside this motion.

Mr WALSH — So, as I have explained, three of the four presiding officers in this place have all had to resign their positions because of misuse of parliamentary allowances. That is not an imputation on anyone; it is a fact. The fact that they actually resigned their positions, the fact that the member for Tarneit fully repaid the money, the fact that the member for Melton paid back only a little over half of the money and the fact that the Deputy President is still under investigation for these issues — these are facts. They are not imputations on any person, they are facts, and we need to deal with facts in this place.

The Deputy Premier talked about having to pay back money. We had the infamous issue of the dogs in the car. Ministers of the Crown are entitled to a chauffeured car as is appropriate to do the job, and I do not think anyone would begrudge a minister with the workload they have having access to a ministerial car and a driver, but I think what Victorians do begrudge is the fact that a minister believes that he should have a ministerial car for his own use and he should have another ministerial car for his dogs’ use. I think people found that absolutely offensive — that you have got a minister believing that his car should be used to chauffeur dogs around.

Again, that is no imputation on that minister, either, because that minister resigned as well. He was shamed into it, particularly by articles in the Herald Sun that pointed out that it was not appropriate for a minister to use his car to chauffeur his dogs around. When he was found out and he was asked whether he should repay the money over that issue, Minister Herbert paid back only $192.80, believing that was the petrol money for a couple of trips to Trentham. As the record stands, those dogs were chauffeured to and from Trentham a number of times. If you are talking about the appropriateness of paying back money, I do not believe that $192.80 was anywhere near the amount that should have been paid back for chauffeuring the dogs. If you think about the wear and tear on a car, the cost of a driver, the damage that may have been done to the upholstery by having dogs in the car and the fact that the car probably needed detailed cleaning because it had had dogs in it, I do not believe that $192.80, which is what Minister Herbert paid back, was at all appropriate.

The censure motion that is before the house I think is just a sign of a desperate government trying to throw as much mud as possible around to cover up for its actions as a government. The Deputy Premier has been put out to move this motion. He is someone whose credibility has been destroyed and is in tatters because of his actions over time. I accept the fact that the Deputy Premier probably has not got a lot of mates on the other side, and it is his job to do the grubby work that needs to be done on behalf of the government. And he does a very good job of being a grub. He does a very good job of being a grub, because —

The SPEAKER — The Leader of The Nationals has been warned about references to other members. The Leader of The Nationals will not be heard if he continues to refer to members in that way.

Mr WALSH — The Deputy Premier does a very good job of taking the dirty linen out on behalf of the government. If you think back to the actions of the Deputy Premier, and the Premier for that matter, why would anyone who leads this state, who believes in this state and who believes in the people of this state and purports to support the emergency services in this state, go to war with 60 000 Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers? It defies logic that the Deputy Premier would say the things that he has said about the CFA and those in the CFA.

The Deputy Premier talked about train wreck interviews in his contribution to this house around this. We can all remember the media interview in front of 1 Treasury Place, when the Deputy Premier totally maligned and destroyed Joe Buffone’s credibility as a long‑serving and dedicated officer to this state in emergency services. What the Deputy Premier did to Joe Buffone — there is no precedent as to how low someone would go to treat someone who has distinguished service to the state.

What happened to the member for Brunswick when she was a minister, and no‑one from the government would defend her against Peter Marshall? To have a situation where a union leader in this state would actually say that they would put an axe in the head of a minister, and not have her colleagues come out and defend her, I find absolutely bizarre. Why wouldn’t the Premier have called Peter Marshall to account? We cannot even get the Premier of this state to mention Peter Marshall’s name. This is some secret society where the Premier will not even mention Peter Marshall’s name.

Again per train wrecks of interviews, we all heard the interview of Peter Marshall on ABC radio with Raf Epstein, I think from memory, when he would not deny whether he had a tape or say what he had over the Premier, what leverage he had over the Premier to make sure that the Premier would do anything that the United Firefighters Union wanted.

What happened to the member for Brunswick when she was minister was an absolute disgrace, let alone what happened to Lucinda Nolan, who gave up a very distinguished career in the police force to move across to be the CEO of the CFA. She is a woman who had had a very distinguished career, who moved across and then was absolutely trashed by the Deputy Premier. The Deputy Premier has no credibility when it comes to moving motions in this house.

What about what happened to Peter Rau from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and the things that his wife has said? He took stress leave because of the bullying and intimidation by Peter Marshall. What do we hear from the other side of the house? What do we hear from the Labor Party members of the cabinet? They have done absolutely nothing to defend Peter Rau. All they will do is defend Peter Marshall on those issues.

So the Deputy Premier has no credibility when it comes to talking about —

The SPEAKER — I wish to interrupt the Leader of The Nationals. Now is an appropriate time to break for lunch. The Leader of The Nationals will have the call when the house resumes.

Sitting suspended 1.00 p.m. until 2.01 p.m.

Debate interrupted.


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