Government Business Program

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — I rise to speak on the government business program. The Greens will not be supporting the government business program in this instance for two reasons. Firstly, I do have amendments to the Equal Opportunity Amendment (Religious Exceptions) Bill 2016. I have provided those amendments to the relevant ministers, I have also indicated that I do have some questions regarding that bill and I have submitted a request to go into consideration in detail.

As I indicated in previous weeks, we have been accommodating of the government business program and we have not had amendments or sought to go into consideration in detail. But in this instance I do have amendments and I do have questions for the minister, and I think it is only fair that that bill progresses into the consideration-in-detail stage. I have not had a response to suggest that is going to occur, so in this instance I feel it is not appropriate that we have the government's program but rather that each bill is voted and decided on as we proceed throughout the week.

At the end of the day if we really wanted to, we could properly pass some bills today. Unfortunately, I think, it is an unnecessary convention of this house that we adjourn all bills off even though the speaking lists have been exhausted and we simply wait until 5.00 p.m. on Thursday to vote on them all. Then when amendments have been put, there is no opportunity for them to be voted on. We will not be supporting the government business program on these grounds. I think it is reasonable, as the Victorian Greens LGBTI equality spokesperson, to be able to put questions to the minister. We have actually got two ministers who have carriage of this bill: the Attorney-General and the Minister for Equality. I think it is only reasonable that I be able to put my questions to them and for the house to vote on my amendments.

The other reason for opposing the government business program, of course, is this unfilled vacancy in the upper house. This has really dragged on too long. I think there are some very convoluted arguments from the government as to why this is not occurring. The other house has resolved to have a joint sitting. The ball is now in this house's court. I think it would be wise for this house to agree to the joint sitting, to fulfil what is required of us by the constitution, to fill that upper house vacancy. So we will be opposing the government business program in this instance.

It was the government's commitment to make consideration in detail a standard feature of bills. We have, I think, been accommodating, and we have only sought really to go into that stage when we have amendments or questions. We are doing so in this instance, but I have not received assurances that we will be able to do that on the Equal Opportunity Amendment (Religious Exceptions) Bill, so we will be opposing the government business program.