Matter of public importance: Government performance

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) (15:12:24) — It is my pleasure to rise and speak on the member for Kew’s matter of public importance:

That this house expresses concern on behalf of all Victorians at the number of formal investigations surrounding the Andrews government.

As somebody who is albeit an observant, or thereabouts, Jew, I am going to have a try at correlating the Christmas events — the 12 days of Christmas — to this government. Now, I am not sure whether I will get through them all because there is a lot of rorting that has been going on with this government. It started with: on the first day of Christmas, the Premier gave to Victoria the Labor rorts scheme. That is what the Premier gave on the first day of Christmas, from which we are all suffering, using taxpayers money to fund —

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Thomson) — I will remind the member to use appropriate titles and that we were very clear at the beginning of the debate.

Mr SOUTHWICK — Thank you, Acting Speaker. The Premier gave to Victoria the Labor rorts scheme using taxpayers money to fund his red shirt brigade — his own Santa’s little helpers. But these Santa’s little helpers were paid all right — by the taxpayer. The Premier’s little helpers were on the gravy train because this government does not know any better. When you become a Labor member of Parliament, when you join the Labor Party, what you do is you say, ‘What’s in it for me?’ — not what is in it for everyone else, but ‘What’s in it for me?’. That is right. We have seen it time and time again — taxpayers money used to fund volunteers. You know what? Do not take it from me. What were the volunteers told? They were told to shut their mouths about how they were being paid. If that is not a clear sign that this was dodgy, then who knows what it was? The Labor Party was telling their volunteers, ‘Shut your mouth. Take the money. Here’s the brown paper bag. Away you go’. That is what it was, brown paper bag stuff. That is exactly what it was. You know that is what it was.

Mr Richardson — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, just going to the MPI itself, if the substance of what the member for Caulfield is talking about is previous to the election, then he is clearly well off the member for Kew’s MPI. He has strayed in his 12 days of Christmas for probably about 10.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Thomson) — There is no point of order. I do not need to continue.

Mr SOUTHWICK — I have obviously offended the members of the government, who know very well they are just a pack of rorters. That is what they are. They are a pack of rorters who cannot handle the truth, can you? You sit up the back, you pack of rorters —

Honourable members interjecting.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Thomson) — I warn the member for Caulfield.

Ms Ward — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, I would ask the member to withdraw. I object to the words he used about me. I ask him to withdraw and I ask him to improve his behaviour.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Thomson) — The member can resume her seat. The member for Caulfield —

Mr Watt interjected.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Thomson) — I do not need help from the member for Burwood. The member for Caulfield, at the beginning of this debate, members were asked to be mindful of the language being used. In this instance there is no point of order, but I do ask you to be cautious in the wording that you use.

Mr SOUTHWICK — Let us just remind ourselves that this government has form. I have only got up to the first day of Christmas and I want to continue on. But let us just remind ourselves, and I take the point which Farrah Tomazin mentioned in her article on 26 February 2017:

Here’s a little bit of trivia … in the 43-year history of the Victorian Ombudsman’s office, only two state governments have challenged its power to investigate a political scandal referred by the Parliament. Both happen to be Labor governments.

Thank you very much. We are talking about one of them now, the red shirt brigade, Red Shirt-gate, which was the first scandal of Christmas.

But let us continue with the second one, because I have only got 5 minutes left. The second one is Dog-gate. Let us talk about Dog-gate, where a minister was investigated and sacked for chauffeuring his dogs around on taxpayers money. Number two, Dog-gate, that is what we had — a minister sacked for chauffeuring his dogs around on taxpayers money, again on the gravy train. Only Labor know very much what it is all about: get in here and take your dough and use it for your own benefit.

On the third day of Christmas the Premier gave to Victoria Speaker-gate.

Mr Richardson — The Premier.

Mr SOUTHWICK — The Premier, yes, you are right. Let me say that again. On the third day of Christmas the Premier gave to Victoria Speaker-gate, where the then Speaker had claimed almost $40 000 in second residence allowance to allow him to live in Queenscliff while representing a western suburbs electorate. The Labor MP announced he would step down as Speaker and return to the back bench. Yes, there we are, another investigation sitting there again questioning the credibility of this Labor government. A dodgy government, that is what we are dealing with: a dodgy government.

On the fourth day of Christmas the Premier gave to Victoria Caravan-gate, when a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers tabled in Parliament showed that the member for Melton had claimed nearly $175 000 in a second residence allowance over six years despite representing a Melbourne seat. Victoria’s now former Deputy Speaker, the member for Melton, says he had lived in a caravan park since 2014 because his apartment in St Kilda was ‘not spacious enough’.

Mr Richardson — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, the acting speakers have given guidance about reading notes. The member has got nine days to go and he just might as well table his notes — he is out of steam.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Thomson) — There is no point of order. Let us all take a breath and we will continue. The member for Caulfield to continue.

Mr SOUTHWICK — If the member for Mordialloc’s side of the house had a fourth row, he would be in that, and he will be on that back bench for a very, very long time — Mr Happy up the back will be sitting up there for a long time, that is for sure.

On fourth day of Christmas, as we said, the member for Melton said his St Kilda apartment was ‘not spacious enough’ so he resorted to the caravan, thank you very much. I know that my residents in the electorate of Caulfield, and some of St Kilda forms part of it, would be very interested to know that the member’s St Kilda apartment was not spacious enough so he resorted to rorting and claiming hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers money, on the gravy train.

But let us continue. On the fifth day of Christmas the Premier gave to Victoria the sacking of the Deputy President in the Council in the cash for stacks scandal. Mr Eideh was embroiled in the cash for stacks scandal, as revealed by the Herald Sun, in which whistleblowers alleged false invoices were being provided to the Parliament to claim payments for printing of work that was never done.

Ms Ward interjected.

Mr SOUTHWICK — No, because what we have got is you lot — the whole lot of you are a pack of rorters. That is what we have got. The whole lot of you — a laughing, joking pack of rorters.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Thomson) — The member for Caulfield! Through the Chair.

Mr SOUTHWICK — On the sixth day of Christmas the Premier gave to Victoria a Labor candidate —

Ms Ward interjected.

Mr SOUTHWICK — There are just so many rorting scandals that the Labor Party is involved in. I need an hour to go through the lot the way this Labor Party rorts.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Thomson) — The member for Caulfield!

Mr SOUTHWICK — The Labor Party candidate for Tarneit, Jasvinder Sidhu, had a Feed the Needy-gate where he was ripping off taxpayers money, getting his own charity together and using the money for Labor Party memberships. What a disgrace!

Mr Pearson — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, these issues have been previously canvassed in question time, and the minister has previously advised the house that these matters are under active investigation. To argue that a person has committed an offence when it is actually under investigation I think is inappropriate.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Thomson) — The member for Caulfield is reminded to be careful of the words that he uses.

Mr SOUTHWICK — Acting Speaker, can I remind you and the house that the Victorian consumer watchdog will investigate the fundraising activities of the would-be state MP after it was alleged that a volunteer group had found him using donations to pay for Labor memberships. This is a rorting government; this is a lying, thieving, corrupt government, and Victorian taxpayers deserve a whole lot better than what we have got from this mob.