Adjourned debate on second reading
(Continued from 9 March 2016)
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 17:31 :18 ): I rise very briefly to put my opposition to this bill on the record. I will be speaking to this package of bills together, namely, the four bills seeking to reform deadlock provisions and the passage of appropriation and supply bills. The bills seek to change the manner in which appropriation and supply bills are dealt with to ensure the passage of these bills, the rationale being that, if supply is blocked, South Australian departments and public servants may face a situation where they are not paid. I am advised the Legislative Council has not blocked supply since 1911. The manner in which these bills address this perceived problem is contemptible.
The fundamental underlying problem with these bills is that they completely ignore the whole reason why this chamber exists. The Legislative Council is a house of review. To propose that, no matter what the house of review decides, the government will simply deem the bill to pass anyway is quite simply outrageous and in some cases dangerous.
We have all seen this government ignore matters in relation to a whole range of issues. They ignore recommendations from committees; they ignore recommendations from the Coroner; they ignore recommendations from royal commissions; and, now they want to ignore the entire upper house of parliament. I know that technically the government has responded to some of the aforementioned recommendations, and have indicated that they will introduce changes in support of recommendations. However, it takes so long to actually do anything that, for all intents and purposes, they might as well ignore them.
The bills also seek to reform the deadlock procedures by mirroring the commonwealth provision to be able to call for a double dissolution election. For the government to now be saying that existing deadlock provisions are not working, and that they require additional ways to resolve these matters, is laughable, given that the government has shown that it has not even tried to work with the existing system.
I have had personal experience where the government has treated deadlock conferences with contempt and as a joke. The purpose of deadlock conferences is for both parties to enter into discussions in good faith to try to resolve the issue. However, I have had deadlock conferences that have lasted two minutes because the government representative simply closed their books and left because they did not get their own way.
They did not try to find a compromise because I did not agree to their position. In fact, the entire Legislative Council did not agree to their position. They refused to negotiate any kind of middle ground and simply left. In childish terms, they picked up their ball and went home because they did not get what they wanted.
The current deadlock provisions are workable if they are taken seriously, and it is the government's own fault that they are not effective now. The package of bills is just a way to do away with the transparency, the scrutiny, that the upper house provides.
I know the former premier, the Hon. Mike Rann, made no secret about wanting to abolish the upper house; however, this did not gain widespread support. It is not just a case of Legislative Councils refusing to vote themselves out of a job: it is because the upper house does a very important job of reviewing the actions and intentions of the government. Whilst not suggesting the abolition of the Legislative Council, these bills undermine the role of the upper house, and I will not be supporting them.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. J.M. Gazzola .