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Legislative Council vacancy

Mr Hibbins (Prahran) — I rise to speak briefly on this motion, and certainly we welcome this motion to fulfil our requirement, which is, as stated in the constitution, to hold a joint sitting to fill a casual vacancy both in the upper house here in the Parliament of Victoria and in the Senate in the federal Parliament. We have been deeply concerned about the government's actions in regard to this matter — using its majority in the lower house to prevent a joint sitting. We do hope that this does not set a precedent.

I was just reading a book recently about constitutional conventions in Westminster — just a bit of light holiday reading. There were a number of examples of subnational governments over the course of history that have acted outside of the Westminster conventions, and I do hope that this particular action taken by this government does end up as one of those footnotes where a government has acted outside the constitutional conventions and that it does not become convention in itself.

Mr Pearson interjected.

Mr HIBBINS — We are deeply concerned. We hope this sort of action of not upholding and essentially trashing the constitution — not holding a joint sitting and not filling this vacancy as outlined in the constitution — does not occur again. So we will be supporting this motion.

In relation to the interjections from the member for Essendon about the documents motion, the process for when there is a dispute over documents is outlined in the standing orders of the upper house. We would certainly welcome the government negotiating with us in terms of the release of the documents that were requested, in particular the grand prix contracts. Of course the motion to request the release of these documents is, on my understanding, to the satisfaction of the house. So if there are particular elements within that contract that the government do not feel should be made public — perhaps certain figures that might cause the state to get out of that contract — and if they do not want to have those figures released to the public, then we are certainly open to conversations about how the government can fulfil the requirements of that motion to release those documents to the house. Certainly we would be open to discussions about how the government can do that to the satisfaction of the upper house.

Now that this issue, we hope, will be resolved in terms of the joint sitting, we certainly hope that the government now takes an approach to the documents motion and looks to provide those documents, and then of course the Leader of the Government in the upper house will be able to take his place. We will be supporting this motion.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered that message be sent to Council informing them of resolution.