Page 4413 - Week 14 - Thursday, 28 November 2013
This is the point: on Tuesdays, often we do knock off early. We get out of here early for lunch because of the government and its lack of agenda, or, I would add, the particular appetite, other than on the gay marriage bill, for other members not to speak to legislation. I do not notice a great number of members from the government jumping up and down on particular pieces of legislation.
But when it comes to private members’ day, what I would say to you is this: on almost every occasion we do not get through our business. On almost every occasion, even though we have extended sitting hours on a Wednesday by half an hour, we do not get through our business. There was proof of that yesterday. Two of the items, 50 per cent of private members’ business from the opposition, were items that we had not got to in previous weeks. There was Mrs Jones’s playground motion that had been sitting on the notice paper, and the jail motion that I had and that had been sitting on the notice paper.
What I would say to you, through the Speaker, is that there is a significant body of work that the opposition is getting through and that there are not sufficient hours in the sitting days for us to get through our agenda. As you saw yesterday, 50 per cent of our work was items that we had not been able to get to because we did not have enough time, did not have enough sitting days, did not have enough hours on a Wednesday.
I remind you that it is not just about the number of days. We used to sit late on a Wednesday, till 9.30, so that we could get through all of our business. I know that does not suit those opposite who want to knock off early on a Wednesday, because they do not want to get through that business. If the minister and the Chief Minister are serious about what they say about open and accountable government, then let us realise that a consequence of what they are doing in this place is reducing the opportunity for the opposition to actually scrutinise government and to make sure that this is an open and accountable government.
There will be less private members’ business. There will be fewer matters of public importance. There will be fewer questions without notice, and there will be less opportunity. So I commend Mr Smyth’s amendment to the Assembly.
I hope that I see a change of heart from Mr Rattenbury, who used to love scrutiny and accountability back when he was a crossbencher but who seems now to dislike it. He used to love private members’ day before he was a minister. He used to want to see lots of questions being asked before he became a minister. He used to like accountability on committees before he became a minister. He used to love the Latimer House principles before he became a minister. But on all those items, he has backflipped.
That the amendment be agreed to.