Government performance

I rise to support Mr Finn's motion 480 in relation to the crisis that is surrounding the Andrews government in terms of the way they conduct their business not only in this house but also in the other house and across Victoria. The motion outlines a range of points in terms of where scenarios have taken place which are really unacceptable to the average person in Victoria. I find that a pity.

In some regards I agree with some of the things that Ms Springle said in relation to this motion and what it means. While this motion is focusing on the government and some of the rorting that we have seen within the government, the flow-on effect is that it impacts all of us. It impacts all of us in many ways, because outside of the Parliament many people do not distinguish between the sides of the house that members sit on. They lump us all in the same category. I think if you were to go and ask many people outside of this building, they would probably throw us all into the same grouping, which I find sad for all of us because it reflects badly on all of us.

I have an example from 2013, when a rating system was done in relation to ethics and honesty. Out of 30 different occupations it was sad to see that state members of Parliament were well towards the bottom. It was even sadder to see that federal MPs were actually rated higher than what we were. None of this reflects well on any of us, but unfortunately the way we see it at the moment is that there have been many examples where this government has brought all of us into disrepute. I have only been here for a year, but there is no doubt that I feel sad, even in the short time that I have been here, about the extent of what has happened in just one year. It is astounding.

Someone said to me at lunchtime when I was grabbing a bite to eat that these things happen so much that it has become normalised. It happens and you see it appear in the newspaper or on the news or wherever it is and people do not bat an eyelid because they are almost expecting it nowadays. I think that is really sad for the Labor Party, but it flows onto all of us. We see groups of schoolkids watching us from the public gallery in this chamber, and at times I think they would wonder what it is all about. That does not reflect well on any of us.

Let us look at some other instances. This motion starts by referring back to 2014, before the election, when the Labor Party put together the Community Action Network. As we have all heard very clearly, there were 26 casual staff employed by members of Parliament in electorate officers who went and worked for the Community Action Network. They put on their red shirts, they went into marginal seats and they campaigned directly door to door for the Labor Party. Those 26 casual staff were meant to be working in the electorate offices of particular Labor members of Parliament, but in many cases those staff members would not even get to meet their MP — their employer. What would also happen is that the MP would sign a blank time sheet and give it over to others within the Community Action Network who would fill out all the details for that government public service employee to go and work for the Labor Party. It is just outrageous that that could have been undertaken.

When the Labor Party were brought to account on that, what did they do? Rather than saying 'Yes, we probably got that wrong. Sorry about that. That was wrong. We'll repay that money because that should have been paid for by the Labor Party', no, they decided they would not do that. So what did they do? They appealed. This matter went to the Ombudsman to be investigated. The government spent taxpayers money to appeal because they said that the Ombudsman did not have the jurisdiction to actually undertake that work. It was then taken up by the Supreme Court, which found that the Ombudsman did have the jurisdiction to undertake the investigation into the red shirt brigade. So what did the government do then? They actually took it to the High Court of Australia. Perhaps it was the vibe that they were looking for. Perhaps it was Mabo, but I do not think it was. How much taxpayers money did the Andrews Labor government spend to go to the High Court so that it could determine whether the Ombudsman had the jurisdiction to look into this issue?

Of course the High Court found that the Ombudsman did have the jurisdiction to look into this matter and so the Ombudsman is currently looking into it. If the Labor Party are guilty, as I suspect they might be, then no wonder they have gone all the way to the High Court of Australia to try to defend this situation. The decision will be handed down fairly soon. I imagine we will all be sitting around, waiting with much anticipation to find out what the Ombudsman makes of this investigation. That is just one example which happened back in 2014 and that is still going. It is interesting to see that the Community Action Network is still in play in Northcote today.

We also had the situation where the former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly — the person who, together with the President, holds the highest official position in the Parliament, the person who is meant to set the example for all politicians in terms of the way this Parliament works, the person who is meant to set the standard for how things operate in the Parliament and the person who I understand lives in Tarneit, which is about 30 kilometres from Melbourne — said, 'I've actually got a second residence down on the beach and I want to claim a further allowance from the Parliament to have a holiday home at the beach, but I am going to call it my principal place of residence'. The former Speaker said that. Once the former Speaker was caught out on that, yes, he was very apologetic — it is easy to say sorry afterwards — and he offered to repay the money, which I assume has occurred. But again it just shows what an absolute abuse of power that is by the person who was meant to be setting the highest —

Ms Shing interjected.

Mr O'SULLIVAN — Ms Shing, I do not think you would ever condone that. I certainly hope that you would not. I am sure you would not. Then the former Deputy Speaker, the member for Melton in the other place, decided that he wanted to have a place down at the beach as well. At least the former Speaker had a house. The former Deputy Speaker decided he was going to get a caravan and take it down to the beach and claim that that was his principal place of residence.

Mr Morris interjected.

Mr O'SULLIVAN — Yes, I did see it out the back in the car park. The member for Melton, the former Deputy Speaker, the second highest position-holder in the Legislative Assembly, showed an absolute disregard of the laws and a disregard of the standard that they are meant to set in this Parliament. It is actually unheard of to have a former Speaker and a former Deputy Speaker both rorting their second residence allowance, because they actually get paid pretty well in those positions. But they both decided that they were going to take the opportunity to rort the taxpayer because they just expected that whatever they wanted, they should get and the poor old taxpayer would pay for it. It is in the DNA of the Labor Party. They absolutely cannot lie straight in bed. It is absolutely disgusting.

I will now go to other matters that show what happens when the Labor Party gets into power. They just lose all sense of reality, to the point where we also saw the absolute other end of ridiculousness by a minister of the Crown, who gets a car and a chauffeur to drive him wherever he wants to go for business purposes — which is absolutely fair enough — and what did he do? He decided he was going to get his chauffeur to pick up his two little puppies, Pistol and Boo. Was it Pistol and Boo?

Ted and Patch. Sorry, I had the wrong ones. He decided to get Ted and Patch, chuck them in the back of the Statesman and drive them up to the country ranch- Up to Trentham. I think it is pretty unreasonable that you would get the taxpayer-funded chauffeur to pick up your dogs and take them up to the ranch at Trentham for the weekend. I think the driver had to stop halfway and take the dogs out to have a little walk up and down the side of the river just to stretch their little legs a bit. That is what happens with the Labor Party when they get into government. The first thing they do is say, 'How can we rip off the taxpayer a bit more?'. That is just one more example where we have seen this happen. It took that minister a couple of weeks before he actually decided that that was enough. He did not think he had done anything wrong at all. It was only when he got a tap on the shoulder from the Premier's office saying, 'It's time to go, Mr Herbert', that he decided, 'Okay, perhaps I did do the wrong thing'. He then decided that not only would he stand down from being minister but he would leave the Parliament. That was probably the reasonable thing to do. We then got Mr Gepp taking his place. It is nice to have Mr Gepp here today.

We have seen a range of other things happen in terms of the rorting undertaken by the Labor Party. One of the latest ones was Labor Party members using taxpayers money from their electorate offices — money which is designed to operate our electorate offices, to pay for electricity, to pay for phones and whatever else that we do, to pay for some advertising and so forth — to organise for some printing to be done, but then saying to the printer, 'Don't really do the printing. Just do a couple. I'll pay the bill, but you give that back to me in cash and I'll go out and pay for some Labor memberships for my preselection'. That is an absolute outrage. I do not know how you could even think that up. What is in your DNA that you could sit there and think, 'How can I rip off the taxpayer so I can get that money and pay for memberships for Labor Party branch stacking'? What sort of a person would stand around and think that up, let alone actually do it? I do not understand that.

Then in the last couple of days we have seen evidence of an organisation called Let's Feed, which is purporting to be a charity. The idea for this charity is that they put some tins around in a whole range of shops and places in the western suburbs, where people after they have bought something would pop a bit of their spare change into those charity tins, and Let's Feed would then go and feed the homeless. Sounds like a beautiful concept — a great program to help those homeless people get a feed. But what happened is that apparently a candidate who is running for preselection for the Labor Party was taking that money and using it to pay for memberships so they can do some branch stacking to replace the member for Tarneit.

There must be something about that particular seat. We had the first member for Tarneit decide that he was going to rip off the taxpayer by getting a house down by the beach. Now the replacement for that rorting member for Tarneit is using a charity organisation that is designed to get food for homeless people out in the western suburbs and taking that money to go and buy memberships to do branch stacking in Tarneit. There must be something about the Labor people in the seat of Tarneit. Absolutely crazy.

Melton have been having a crack at it, but I think the Melton people did it through the printing, and if you are in Tarneit you do it through the Let's Feed charity. I could go on and on and on, but I have only got 1 minute 30 seconds so I cannot go into more.

What we are also seeing, which I think is very dishonest of this government, is with the Northcote by-election coming up the Labor Party trying to out-green the Greens. We have seen the Labor candidate come out and say they are a proud vegan, they would go to the op shop to buy their clothes and a whole range of other things that are absolutely greener than the Greens.

There is no doubt we are seeing a whole range of backflipping by this party, by this government, in terms of the by-election coming up in Northcote. We have seen a backflip in relation to injecting rooms. We have seen a backflip in relation to allowing animals to live in rental properties. 

It is true to say that they are allegations, and if I did not say that in my contribution, I certainly meant to say that in my contribution.

What we have seen over a long time with this government is that they cannot be trusted. I think within one year the people of Victoria will wake up and decide that they need a better government in this state, and the Liberals and The Nationals will be very proud to provide that to them.

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