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In Parliament

 

Leader of the Opposition - Motion

   Thursday, 6 September 2018

Mr T. SMITH (Kew) (14:28:20) — I rise to oppose this censure motion in the strongest possible terms because we have had an assault on cabinet government and the independence of the public service, but most importantly, we have had an assault on the privacy of innocent bystanders to this mess created by the Andrews Labor government — collateral damage, if you like. I will turn to that in a moment.

I wanted to make a couple of observations about the catastrophe that has been the political strategy of the Andrews Labor government this week. There he was, the member for Monbulk, chest puffed out, all really keen on Monday afternoon and Tuesday, with all his boxes of documents, saying, ‘I’m going to sink the Leader of the Opposition this week. I’m going to sink him. I’m going to win this election, just myself’, big tough guy, the member for Monbulk. Well, it has not gone so well, has it? We have got a situation where —

Ms Allan — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, I appreciate the member for Kew is just over a minute into his contribution. However, the motion does not concern the actions of the member for Monbulk, the Deputy Premier. The motion does not involve the government. The motion is all about the actions of the Leader of the Opposition when he was the planning minister, and I would urge you to bring the member for Kew back to the substance of the motion. He is either prepared to defend his leader or not.

Mr R. Smith — On the point of order, Acting Speaker, I ask that you rule the Leader of the House’s point of order out of order. These issues have been canvassed already in debate. This is what a debate is about: reprosecuting the issues that have already been raised. That is what debate is. It is not ‘give a speech’ time, it is actually time to debate. These issues have already been canvassed in debate and the member for Kew is completely justified in raising these issues again.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr McGuire) — The member for Kew, on the motion.

Mr T. SMITH — This setpiece censure motion that has been conjured up by the Premier and the Deputy Premier this week has not gone so well, it would be fair to say. It is not gone so well because in their big effort — their great big stunt this week — to smear the Leader of the Opposition and other senior members of the shadow cabinet they forgot to redact a few documents. In the 80 000 documents that they claim to have read they failed to redact the private and personal details of a single mother with a seven‑year‑old child.

These documents include 16 pages of highly personal information — usually documents only your accountant would ever see, or your lawyer — financial details including exact net worth, bank account balances, investment accounts, mortgage details, property addresses, a private home address, superannuation details and life insurance policies.

But it gets worse because there are other documents that were presented in this package.

Ms Allan — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, more than another minute has gone by and the member for Kew has continued to fail to address the motion before the house. He either defends his leader or he does not, or he is sat down.

Mr T. SMITH — On the point of order, Acting Speaker, this censure motion is based on a release of documents that occurred by a motion of this house on 29 March, and I am referring to those documents. If you will not let me refer to those documents in my attack on this rorting Labor government, then what the hell are we doing here?

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr McGuire) — The member for Kew, on the motion you are allowed — as I am advised — to do a compare and contrast as well.

Mr T. SMITH — So, in their great attempt to smear the Leader of the Opposition they put their foot in it. They leaked the details of a young mum with a seven‑year‑old child. They have also printed the medical records of innocent bystanders. And there is the fact that it has been revealed this afternoon in the Herald Sun that the woman whose private financial and medical details were published in a government document dump told the Herald Sun she did not receive an apology until just after 1.00 p.m., when she spoke to a senior member of the Premier’s office. Yet the Premier told reporters at 9.20 this morning, ‘We’ve apologised to the person involved’. Well, Acting Speaker, that is a deliberate mistruth. The Premier has misled the people of Victoria.

Ms Halfpenny — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, I am just wondering why the member for Kew is not able to speak up for the Leader of the Opposition. This censure motion is talking about calling for his resignation and to pay back the $3.5 million that was stolen. It seems that nobody on the other side is able to speak on this censure motion to defend the Leader of the Opposition.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr McGuire) — I do invite the member for Kew to come back to the motion. I did allow a compare and contrast, and I would invite him just to be on the motion.

Mr T. SMITH — I am referring to documents that are at the heart of this motion of censure against the Leader of the Opposition. I am defending the Leader of the Opposition. I am defending him as a man of integrity who would never, ever leak the private details of a young mum and a seven‑year‑old.

Ms Neville interjected.

Mr T. SMITH — Don’t you lecture me. You’re the biggest liar in the building, you. You are a grub.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr McGuire) — The member for Kew, that was unparliamentary, and I would invite you to withdraw.

Mr T. SMITH — I withdraw.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr McGuire) — The member for Kew to proceed.

Mr T. SMITH — Neil Mitchell summed up what the former privacy commissioner said on his program this morning as:

… on the face of it the state government has breached privacy laws, they’re guilty of negligence, breach of confidentiality, the charter of human rights, legal privilege, potential contempt of court, misconduct, misconduct and misuse of public office.

I mean, this is the length to which Labor have stooped to try and smear the Leader of the Opposition. I mean, you would have thought that they could have got a stunt like this right. They cannot even get this right. The Premier could not even get the timing of his apology correct this morning when he told reporters that he had apologised to the woman, who I suspect will be suing this government for millions of dollars, because as the former privacy commissioner said this morning:

Once your privacy has been breached, you can never, never have it returned to you. It’s out there, so it’s not something that’s easily compensable. It’s not something that’s easy to calculate either. But courts have a duty to do that and increasingly there have been substantial payouts in other jurisdictions and, look, also substantial settlements made in Australia.

So the Andrews Labor government are going to be up, I suspect, for a lot of money here, because they have trashed the conventions. They have trashed the conventions of this Parliament.

Ms Allan — On a point of order, Speaker, I would encourage you to invite the member for Kew in the less than 2 minutes he has available to him to finally come to addressing the motion before the house. He has gone nowhere near addressing the motion before the house in his contribution to date. I would ask that he either defend his leader or he does not, and he needs to do that in the next minute and a half.

The SPEAKER — Order! I ruled earlier that members are entitled to provide contrast in this debate. I do not uphold the point of order.

Mr T. SMITH — The Leader of the House is particularly sensitive about this today because her entire strategy this week has been blown out of the water because the Premier instructed his department to breach the traditions of this Parliament, the traditions of the public service — indeed legal‑professional privilege — and what happened? They put their foot in it. They published the private details of innocent Victorians. Their entire political strategy has been blown out of the water, because what happened? You thought this week was going to be about the Leader of the Opposition, but it is about you. It didn’t go so well, did it, guys? Didn’t go so well, did it? No, didn’t go so well.

Ms Allan — On a point of order, Speaker, the member for Kew is now being deliberately provocative. He has gone nowhere near —

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! Members will come to order.

Honourable members interjecting.

Ms Allan — It is pretty clear — and I reckon this is going to be their strategy for the rest of this debate — ‘We’re not going to defend our leader. We’re going to let him sink under this stinking mess’, and they are not going to touch this motion at all.

The SPEAKER — The Leader of the House will resume her seat. There is no point of order.

Mr T. SMITH — You do your worst, because we will do our best. You can continue to smear others and implicate others in your ridiculous stunts. You have made fools of yourselves this week. Hang your heads in shame.