30th April 2024 02:30pm
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne

David ETTERSHANK (Western Metropolitan): 

I rise to make a brief contribution on the motion and the amendment before the chamber. As members of Parliament we have an enormous privilege in serving the communities that we represent.

We have a responsibility to ensure that democratic principles are maintained. We have a responsibility to protect the accountability and the transparency that are implicit tenets within our democracy.

This motion is about the provision of documents. It is also about holding the executive accountable to Parliament and the communities that we all represent.

We acknowledge that the government has released some of the documents requested across various documents motions. We also acknowledge that some of these motions seek to capture a large and possibly excessive amount of information and that the work required to be undertaken by departmental staff and the government itself to respond to these documents motions is no doubt time consuming and onerous.

To that end we would be pleased to discuss with government how future document requests could be most efficiently and efficaciously processed.

That said, it is more than a year since the first of these documents requests was made.

The government could have chosen at any point to have just opened a dialogue with the crossbench about the nature or the extent and establish some priorities for the release of some or all of the documents. But the government has chosen not to, and we are only having this debate because the government has done nothing other than send out the same old letters, which exclude the totality of the documents being requested and make no attempts to open a dialogue.

It is hard to fathom why it took, for example, the government almost 12 months to release the Lay report into the supervised injecting service trial in the CBD or why they chose to hide it for so long. In reference to that motion, I remind the government that we actually requested other documents in relation to the Lay report that have still not been produced.

The documents requested do not, I believe, require a great deal of work to compile, and notwithstanding the government’s announcements last week in response to the report, we still require the government to release them. I would also appreciate it if the government could clarify if they are continuing to claim executive privilege over this second tranche of documents that was requested with regard to the Lay report or if they are just choosing to continue to ignore the chamber’s request.

We are gravely concerned that this government continues to evade documents motions, and with the greatest respect to Mr Galea, this is not an extreme resolution.

Rather, in giving the government another two weeks to comply with the collective democratic will of this chamber, it is much more like a slap across the face with a wet lettuce leaf. This is not extreme. This is simply trying to defend certain Westminster principles to which supposedly we all have a commitment.

We have a moral imperative to ensure this government respects parliamentary process and lives up to its public commitments to accountability and transparency. Accordingly, Legalise Cannabis Victoria will be supporting this motion as amended.


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