CONSTITUTION (DEADLOCKS) AMENDMENT BILL

Thursday 11 February, 2016

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (17:07): I also rise to oppose the Constitution (Deadlocks) Amendment Bill 2015. I noticed that, in recent times, the government has made comments to the effect that they are looking to reset the relationship with crossbenchers. As we have seen, many pieces of legislation that have been brought forward in recent times, if anything, seek to erode the powers of the Legislative Council and erode the powers of the crossbenchers.

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (17:07): I also rise to oppose the Constitution (Deadlocks) Amendment Bill 2015. I noticed that, in recent times, the government has made comments to the effect that they are looking to reset the relationship with crossbenchers. As we have seen, many pieces of legislation that have been brought forward in recent times, if anything, seek to erode the powers of the Legislative Council and erode the powers of the crossbenchers.

As many on this side of the chamber have pointed out, bills such as the Constitution (Appropriation and Supply) Amendment Bill 2015, the Constitution (Deadlocks) Amendment Bill 2015 and the Electoral (Legislative Council Voting) Amendment Bill 2015 are examples of this. This is an example of where the government is saying one thing but doing the complete opposite.

If the government is claiming to have a better relationship with the crossbenchers, a better relationship with the upper house, you would think that, in the first week of parliament this year, it might go about its business in a different way. We understand on this side of the chamber that two houses of parliament are essential. It is important that we have one house as a house of review not only to scrutinise and analyse legislation but also to make sure that the appropriate checks and balances are in place, and we acknowledge that, as the member for Schubert says.

This government, by these kinds of measures, quite frankly, has done nothing but treat the other place with contempt, and we have seen time and again the height of the government's arrogance. I mean, look at the recent example, the planning bill, whereby so many amendments were brought forward, changed at the eleventh hour and debated in instances where surely that kind of pressure does not encourage the best form of analysis possible.

Mr Duluk interjecting:

Mr TARZIA: Exactly; not many Labor members have contributed to that particular debate. We on this side of the chamber detest that sort of thing. It is simply not good enough. We would consider that these sorts of bills are just absolutely ridiculous. I noticed in my reading that the Labor Party for many years has had a suite of policies either pertaining to the abolition of the Legislative Council or reducing the power of the Legislative Council.

In 2009 I noticed that we on this side of the chamber, also supported by minor parties and Independents in the other place, defeated a similar proposal by the Labor Party. My colleague the member for Schubert has pointed out how a new mechanism for resolving persistent disagreements between the houses is planned and how the bills reduce the power of the Legislative Council potentially.

There are obviously current processes for resolving disagreements and deadlocks, if you will, and this legislation quite simply is not necessary. Furthermore, I also agree with the member for Schubert that this legislation does have the opportunity to be used as a bullying tool for the other place and it is simply not good enough. It is extremely lazy to put something like this forward.

There are obviously a number of benefits that go with fixed terms. That debate has been had and, in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary, that should not change, and so I cannot support this legislation. We on this side of the legislation cannot support this legislation. The government needs to have a good hard look at itself. To say that it is looking to work more closely with the other place, that it is looking to work more closely with the crossbenchers and then to put something like this forward is completely ridiculous, and I oppose the bill.