Emergency Services | March 28, 2018

Statements On Reports Accountability And Oversight Committee: Oversight Agencies 2016–17

Victorian Parliament - 28 March 2018 - Ms KEALY — I would like to make a contribution to today’s statements on committee reports and speak on the inquiry into fire season preparedness. This inquiry was a long one. The committee heard an enormous amount of evidence. I thank the work of the committee, led by David Davis in the Council and also of course the National Party representative, Melina Bath in the Council, who did an enormous amount of work on that committee. It was also supported by the fantastic secretariat and committee staff —

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Couzens) — Sorry, member for Lowan, could you confirm what report you are speaking to?

Ms KEALY — The inquiry into fire season preparedness.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Couzens) — Member for Lowan, that is a Council committee report so you cannot speak on it, but I invite you to have a look at the other —

Ms KEALY — The Accountability and Oversight Committee’s Report into Victorian Oversight Agencies 2016–17.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Couzens) — Thank you.

Ms KEALY — Obviously this is a broad‑ranging report on a broad‑ranging inquiry which covered off on a lot of areas. During the last committee inquiry we certainly heard a lot of things which came up around investigations into what the Ombudsman can do and in particular a report the Ombudsman undertook which investigated what is now known as the red shirts rorts. We have got a report now which has been handed down and which has clearly put forward that the Andrews Labor government has taken and used more than $388 000 for their own financial benefit.

I was absolutely appalled to read in the media release from the Labor government that they did not believe there had been any personal benefit for any members of Parliament. When you consider that less than 10 000 votes made the difference between forming government by winning the relevant number of seats and being in opposition, I cannot see how pay rises of up to $250 000 for most of the people on the front bench and also for the Premier himself are okay. They certainly received an enormous financial benefit from this.

There is something else of course that came up in last year’s report, and that was around the fire services and management of the Country Fire Authority (CFA). It is an absolute disgrace that yesterday not one ministers statement nor the statement from the Premier thanked the vital CFA volunteers who helped to put out the south‑west fires. The south‑west fires were absolutely devastating for my part of the region. We lost 26 homes, 55 sheds —

Mr Scott — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, as important as the issues being raised by the member for Lowan are, they do not particularly relate directly to the report she is referring to.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Spence) — Member for Lowan, could you bring your comments back to that report.

Ms KEALY — This is a wideranging report, but again we see another Labor minister who is trying to hush up all the efforts that were put in place to put out those fires. There are people there who have lost absolutely everything apart from the shirt on their back. There was not one acknowledgement of that in this place except in the upper house, where they brought forward a vote to destroy the CFA in the quiet of night while there was somebody in hospital and unable to vote.

Mr Noonan — Further on the point of order, Acting Speaker, quite simply the member on their feet is defying your ruling. It is inappropriate to do that and I ask you to bring her back to the report.

An honourable member interjected.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Spence) — Thank you for your point of order, member for Williamstown. I do ask the member for Lowan —

Mr Noonan — I take offence at the member calling me a misogynist and I would ask for that to be withdrawn.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Spence) — Member for Williamstown, which member are you referring to?

Mr Noonan — I believe it was the member for Hastings.

Mr Burgess — You believe or you know?

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Spence) — Member for Hastings, you have been asked to withdraw that comment, could I please ask you to do so.

Mr Burgess — I withdraw.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Spence) — Thank you. Member for Lowan, I do ask you to come back to the report that you were speaking on.

Ms KEALY — There is no doubt that Labor members do not want to talk about the CFA volunteers and how they are treating them. They do not want to talk about the endless amount of money they have rorted from taxpayers, and this is another example where they have spent a million bucks to quiet up this report. It is a disgrace.


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