No Confidence in Government
Tuesday, 24th August 2018
Mr WALSH (Murray Plains) (15:41:10) — I seek an hour as a lead speaker for another party.
Ms Allan — No. You are not another party.
Mr WALSH — We are another party.
Ms Allan — You are the coalition.
Mr WALSH — We are the National Party.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Leave is not granted.
Honourable members interjecting.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! The member for Murray Plains will resume his seat. Sessional order 12 states:
… subject to any agreement to the contrary, additional time provided for the lead speaker of any party does not apply where such a party has advised the Speaker that it is in a coalition arrangement with another party.
Mr Clark — On a point of order, Deputy Speaker, my understanding is that the Leader of The Nationals sought leave to speak for 1 hour. Clearly it is up to the government to refuse, or any other member if they want to. I certainly have not heard the Leader of the House refuse it at this stage. I think she should confirm the position in that respect.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Is leave granted?
Ms Allan — I am delighted to uphold the standing orders and refuse leave.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Leave is not granted.
Mr WALSH — I rise to support the Leader of the Opposition in his motion that the government no longer has the confidence of this house. The tone of a state is set by the leadership of the state, and the leadership of this state is the Premier and the executive government. We have a Premier in this state and we have an executive government in this state who are bullies, who are rorters, who are corrupt and who will leave no stone unturned to do whatever they can to prosper themselves at the expense of Victoria.
The Premier and the executive government have no respect for the Parliament, have no respect for the rule of law and, as the motion says, they no longer have the confidence of this house to govern this state. They no longer have the respect of Victorians. They treat Victorian taxpayers like an ATM, put their credit card in and get their money out, and there is example after example of that happening. There is a sense of entitlement from the Labor Party that sits on the other side of this house. There is a born‑to‑rule mentality amongst them. They have been in government for 15 of 19 years and there is a born‑to‑rule mentality on that side of the house. They will do anything and they will destroy anyone who gets in the way of their right to entitlement and what they believe they should have.
It goes right back to a dictaphone. It goes right back to that. If you cannot tell the truth about a dictaphone, how can you tell the truth about anything? Was it stolen? Was it lost? Did it get listened to? Did notes get taken from the dictaphone? Was it actually destroyed so no‑one knew whether it was listened to or not? If you cannot even tell the truth about a dictaphone, how can you have the confidence of Victorians to run this state?
We all remember hearing before the last election, ‘The contract for the east–west link is not worth the paper it is written on’ and ‘It will not cost one dollar to tear up that contract’. Yet later it cost $1.3 billion to not build that road. The road would only have cost the Victorian taxpayer $2 billion. For another $700 million the east–west link would be well on the way to being built by now, instead of having $1.3 billion go down the drain.
It will be referred to many times in this debate today, the election eve promise to Peter Mitchell on the steps of Parliament looking down the camera: ‘Peter, I make a promise to each and every Victorian I will not increase taxes. I will not introduce new taxes’. We know all the new taxes and we know all the tax increases that have happened in this state. There was no respect for Victorians in that promise — a promise that has been broken over and over again.
We can talk about the respect of the Parliament. The former Speaker, the person that is here to uphold the integrity of this house, decided he wanted to go and live in Queenscliff so he could claim the second residence allowance. After going to live in Queenscliff — he could not live in his own seat of Tarneit; he wanted to live in Queenscliff — he claimed $37 000, rorting the system around the second residence allowance. Also, there is the former Deputy Speaker — the second of two officers who are here to uphold the integrity of this house. He lived in Ballarat at one stage and then lived in a caravan at Ocean Grove because his flat in Mordialloc was too small. He actually wanted something more spacious to live in so he lived in a caravan at Ocean Grove and claimed something like $174 000 from the Victorian taxpayer for the pleasure of doing that — no respect for Victorians at all.
Again, the Deputy President — three out of four Presiding Officers in these two chambers are Labor Party Presiding Officers. One is a Liberal. Who are the three that have been in trouble for rorting the system? The former Speaker and the former Deputy Speaker in this house, and the Deputy President in the other place for rorting the printing allowances there, for which there is an investigation that is still ongoing.
But I think if you talk about the sense of entitlement, the thing that takes the cake for all Victorians is chauffeuring your dogs around. Two dogs, Patch and Ted — poor old Patch and Ted, they are infamous in this state now. I feel sorry for those two dogs. They are victims of their master putting them in the back of a chauffeured limousine to go to Trentham and back. If you talk about a sense of entitlement, who in their right mind would think that it is okay to have a chauffeur specially to take their dogs around? Maybe Miss Daisy should have a chauffeur, but not Patch and Ted. If you think about the sense of entitlement, that takes the cake of the corruption and the moral ineptitude of this particular government.
If you think about regional Victoria and the sale of the port, there was an agreement for 10 per cent of that money, $970 million, to be spent on regional infrastructure. That has not happened. It has just gone into recurrent. It has not actually upgraded anything in regional Victoria. If you look at the $200 million from the sale of the Rural Finance Corporation, it disappeared into recurrent funding — never went back into regional Victoria. If you actually look at the other half of the Rural Finance sale, the Murray Basin rail project, a once‑in‑a‑lifetime opportunity to upgrade the rail tracks of north‑west Victoria, it is $100 million over budget, the contractor has been sacked and subcontractors are not being paid. It is two years behind, and I do not think it will ever really be finalised.
An honourable member interjected.
Mr WALSH — As the interjector said, it is a project that has been absolutely botched. But if you talk about regional Victoria, why would any government go to war with 60 000 volunteers in the Country Fire Authority (CFA)? Why would you be so arrogant that you believe you could go to war with 60 000 volunteers and get away with it?
Anyone who actually stood up for those volunteers within the organisation of the CFA has had their career trashed. All those people who were in leadership roles in the CFA that actually did the right things by those volunteers have been trashed. They have been sacked. They have had their reputations destroyed. Two years ago the Premier actually said, ‘This dispute needed fixing, and I fixed it’. Two years on there is more chaos than ever, and we have a situation where, with a drought, we are probably going into a very dangerous fire season. We have the CFA in the situation it is in because of the Premier and because of the Deputy Premier of this state, and there is a real risk that we are not as prepared as we would have been.
Four years ago would you have heard anyone in Victoria, would you have heard the media outlets, actually talking about carjackings or about home invasions? In the last four years those two things have become part of the vernacular of this state because there is a government that is soft on crime and actually lets people get away with crime. Carjackings and home invasions are not things that were talked about every day in this state four years ago. They are now talked about on a daily basis and reported in the media accordingly. And you have got a government that is in absolute denial that this is an issue. For some reason it is the ostrich — you put your head in the sand, and it is going to go away. Nothing is going to happen. If we deny it, it is not there. The people of Victoria most certainly do know that. And crime is not just a city issue; crime is very much a country issue as well, particularly with the burglaries in our smaller towns and the ram raids to our main street shops. People have had enough of the crime that is going on in this state.
The other issue that people talk about all the time is the cost of living. That goes back to that broken promise with Peter Mitchell on election eve. A huge increase in the coal tax in this state, $250 million more in coal royalties, forced the closure of Hazelwood — 22 per cent of our state generation capacity taken out, prices up. Once this state used to be proud of the fact that it had affordable, reliable power. We had a manufacturing sector that grew up around having affordable, reliable power. We no longer have that. We have a debate based on ideology rather than a debate based on fact, and we are forcing businesses and jobs out of this state.
Melbourne was once very proud of the fact that it was voted the most livable city in the world. We have actually lost the title of the most livable city in this world under this particular government.
I suppose, in my last few minutes of the 15 minutes, the thing that has actually brought all this to a head is the red shirts rorts. For some reason the Labor Party believed that members could dupe parliamentary allowances to have the Parliament pay for staff to actually electioneer for them at the last election. The nub of this issue — and this is where the legality comes into it — is that we all know that if we employ casual or part‑time people in our electorate offices, there is an A4 sheet which has each day on it, which is filled in by the person who is working there and actually says how many hours they worked on that day. On the bottom of that sheet there are two spots to sign: one for the person who is working for the MP to sign and one for the MP to sign to say that person actually worked those hours and worked those hours in that MP’s office. That is how the system works —
An honourable member — That is how it is meant to work.
Mr WALSH — Exactly, that is how it is meant to work. The rort here — and the illegality here — that I believe the police will actually find when they seriously investigate this, is that Labor Party MPs were asked to sign blank forms and they were sent to another MP’s office, where the person who was technically employed by that MP who was signing the forms actually worked, and then they were signed by that particular person in that office not working in the office of the MP who had actually filled that form in initially. That is the nub of the issue here: that those MPs involved were there to fraudulently take money from the Parliament to pay for those people to do that work.
The fact that there are 21 MPs mentioned in the Ombudsman’s report is an absolute shame on the Labor Party and a shame on this house for what they done, but more important is the fact that there are six ministers involved in that. We have six ministers of the Crown who have been found by the Ombudsman to have rorted the system, who are now being investigated by the police and who will not stand aside. The Westminster convention is that if a minister is being investigated, particularly if a minister is being investigated by the police, they should stand aside from their job. Those six ministers should be standing aside.
But it actually gets worse than there being six ministers that should stand aside; there are also the two top law officers of this state, the Attorney‑General and the Minister for Police. The Attorney‑General allegedly signed forms to benefit another MP, and the police minister was a beneficiary of someone signing forms to have someone work in her office. So you have got the two top law officers of this state — the people that sit at the pinnacle of the legal system — accused of rorting the system and being investigated by police, and they will not stand aside; their jobs go on.
On the motion that is before the house, moved by the Leader of the Opposition, I would urge those MPs on the other side of the house who believe in integrity, believe in the Westminster system and believe in the oath — because when we come back after an election we walk up there, we put our hand on the Bible and we swear allegiance to Victoria, to the Queen and to the fact that we will do the right thing and uphold the laws of this state. I believe that the Labor Party and particularly those 21 MPs and, even more importantly, those six ministers, have actually lost sight of the oath they swore when they came into this house after the last election. They no longer deserve the right or the privilege to serve the people of Victoria. They swore that oath, and I believe they have broken that oath and no longer have the confidence of this house and no longer have the confidence of the people of Victoria.
It is also going to be interesting in the vote on this motion as to how the minor parties and Independents in this place vote. If they actually believe in upholding the law, in the rule of law and in the oath they took when Parliament was convened after the last election, they can do nothing else but stand in this place and support the Leader of the Opposition in his motion that this house has lost confidence in the government and government members should all resign.
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