Government Buisness Program

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — I rise to speak on the government business program motion. We will not be opposing the government business program in this instance with five bills on the program. We have not requested to go into consideration in detail or put forward any amendments at this stage, although I will make some remarks about consideration in detail.

It was an election commitment that it would become a standard feature of bills in the Legislative Assembly. Obviously that has not taken place. There have been times when we have requested consideration in detail and put forward amendments and let the government know beforehand and this has not resulted in going into consideration in detail. So I welcome comments by the Leader of the Government that she will be looking at consulting with the opposition in a way that should facilitate consideration-in-detail stages occurring in this house, and I would certainly make it clear that the Greens would be interested in being involved in those conversations. I think it would be appropriate for the Independent member, the member for Shepparton, to be involved in those conversations as well.

I note in the upper house they actually have a formal meeting before each sitting week and work out the bills and what is going to go forward. Certainly I would be open to a similar arrangement in this house if we needed to have a formal meeting beforehand where formal requests could be put forward to go into consideration in detail.

Mr Pearson interjected.

Mr HIBBINS — Putting the mindless interjections of the member for Essendon aside, we would do so in good faith. The Greens have no desire to filibuster or stymie the debate in the house, as perhaps the member for Essendon might do with the lengthy, droning contributions that he puts forward.

An honourable member interjected.

Mr HIBBINS — He makes a very good point. The fact that we have a government business program means that we can actually have a consideration-in-detail stage on bills which will not in any way hinder the passing of legislation by 5.00 p.m. on Thursday.

I welcome the fact that we are having a joint sitting to fulfil our constitutional obligations to fill a vacancy in the Senate. I am glad that we have not had a big delay on the filling of that particular vacancy, although I will make one comment. I was incredibly surprised when I heard of this vacancy. I wondered when that was going to be filled, what was the process and whether Labor members get a vote on that. I am told no, that it all gets a figured out in a committee. A committee meets and decides — —

Ms Allan — On a point of order, Deputy Speaker, we will not be taking lectures from the member for Prahran. When the Greens political party opens its conferences up to the media, then we might listen to his concerns. He is speaking completely off the motion, and I ask you to bring him back to the matter before the house.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! I ask the honourable member to come back to the motion before the house.

Mr HIBBINS — We will not be opposing the government business program in this instance, and we certainly welcome any discussions about how we can facilitate bills going into consideration in detail in this house.