Media Releases

06
Sep
2018

Leader of the Opposition

Mr R. SMITH (Warrandyte) (15:24:32) — That was bizarre. I think everyone in the house would agree that that was just a bizarre rant. It was very, very strange. I have been here for a long time — I have been here for 12 years — and probably one of the things that disappoints me is that whenever the Labor Party goes low and I think it has gone as low as it could possibly go, it actually finds a way to go even lower. It constantly amazes me that it is able to do what it does at a lower level time and time again — it really does. It is just bizarre.

I looked at what happened yesterday and at all these documents coming through earlier in the week. Let us not pretend that it is anything more than just a distraction from the fact that 17 Labor operatives were arrested and that ministers in this chamber and in the other place, including the Minister for Police, are under police investigation. Let us not pretend that it is anything other than that. Let us not pretend that this nefarious plot that you have concocted — that you have clearly been aware of for four long years but you did not want to bring it up six months into your term in office or one year — just happened to come up just a couple of weeks after your people got arrested and after the Minister for Police, the Attorney-General, the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, who is at the table, and the minister in the other place who is responsible, would you believe it, for the integrity bodies of this government, the Special Minister of State, were under police investigation. Let us not pretend that this censure motion or even the tabling of those documents is anything other than a distraction, and those opposite know it. Maybe the member for Frankston does not know it — he does not really know what is going on around this place — but the others would probably know it. The others would know that it is nothing more than a distraction.

What happened yesterday when it was found out what sort of details were in those documents — those 80 000 documents that were supposedly going to sink the Leader of the Opposition? Apparently no-one on the other side of the house — with all the staff in the Premier’s office, with all the staff that are in the department, with all the staff that are in the agencies and with all the staff that the ministers have — thought to actually look in the boxes to see what was in there. We have had a cavalcade of Labor members getting up and telling us that these documents are replete with evidence that will sink the Leader of the Opposition. They are replete with evidence that apparently the Leader of the Opposition was doing the wrong thing, but none of those opposite have even read the documents. They would not have one clue what was in there — not one clue. They talk about the evidence that is in those documents, but they would not have one clue.

I put it to you, Speaker, that if even one of these people opposite who have got to their feet and spoken today had read any of the documents or looked in the boxes, they would have seen the amount of information that was in there that had nothing to do with the planning decisions of the Leader of the Opposition. How can the Leader of the House and the Deputy Premier get up in this place and say, ‘All these documents show the Leader of the Opposition is doing the wrong thing’. You have never read them. None of them have read them, and if they had, they would have seen the details of a seven-year-old girl and a single mother —

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Without the assistance of the member for Mordialloc.

Mr R. SMITH — and her medical records, bank account records —

Ms Spence interjected.

The SPEAKER — The member for Yuroke is warned.

Mr R. SMITH — superannuation records, share portfolio, address and phone number along with the details of a Vietnam veteran, the mental health records of a Vietnam veteran and the criminal record of a university lecturer. They would have seen, if they had bothered to open any of the boxes, that the details in there should not have been there. I could not believe it. I actually felt deep disgust —

Honourable members interjecting.

Mr R. SMITH — Speaker, can you please give me some protection here? You do have a job to do.

The SPEAKER — Order! Members on my right will come to order. The member for Warrandyte has the call.

Mr R. SMITH — I would say that those opposite think it is hysterical that a seven-year-old girl has her details online. Those opposite think it is hysterical that these private details —

Ms Spence interjected.

The SPEAKER — The member for Yuroke has been warned.

Mr R. SMITH — are online. We have talked a little about faux outrage. I was absolutely disgusted to my core that there was nothing from those opposite —

Ms Halfpenny interjected.

The SPEAKER — The member for Thomastown is warned.

Mr R. SMITH — about getting up and showing any contrition at all. In fact the Premier had to have a vague apology dragged out of him. He said to the people of Victoria through the media, through his press conference, that he had made sure that the woman in question, notwithstanding that there are many people who have had their private details put on the public record, had had an apology made to her.

Four hours later she told the press that that is not the case at all. Why would he say to the press that she had been apologised to when it had never happened? It just goes to his character. Those opposite want to talk about character. This is the character of a man whose immediate response upon realising that dozens and dozens of pages that should not have been made public have been made public was not to say sorry; it was not to apologise to the people of Victoria. What is the first thing that he did? He told another mistruth — another deceit, another deception, another falsehood. That is his immediate reaction. Do you know why it is his immediate reaction? Because he has been doing it for four or five years. There is not one thing that this Premier says that is not a mistruth, a falsification or a deception. Not one thing.

Let me tell you how seriously Labor ministers think of this particular issue. The Deputy Premier said it was unfortunate —

Mr Edbrooke — On a point of order, Speaker, the member needs to come back to the motion. He has spent much of his time impugning members that are in the house. I will not have my character judged by him. I think he should come back to the motion.

The SPEAKER — I do not uphold the point of order. Members have been able to provide contrasts in relation to this motion.

Mr Edbrooke interjected.

The SPEAKER — Without the assistance of the member for Frankston.

Mr R. SMITH — Michael Lamb is going to wipe the floor with you, mate.

What did the Deputy Premier say about this release of information, this very private and sensitive information? He said it was ‘unfortunate’. Unfortunate is when you spill a cup of coffee on someone; that is unfortunate. It is not unfortunate to have your entire financial and medical history laid open for the world to see. What did the Treasurer say? He said it was a ‘relatively minor breach’. He does not mind. He thinks it is a minor breach that a lawyer who has been the subject of death threats actually has her name and address and all other details out in the public eye. That is a ‘relatively minor breach’. He also said:

The government is working through this data as it has been produced.

Do you know how long ago it was produced? It was four months ago. They are just working through it now, after it has been tabled and after the details have been made public. He also said, and again I highlight the issue that there have been medical records, mental health records and financial records released:

We believe we have taken the right balance and the right approach in this matter.

Because you want to play your political games and impugn members of this house who are your political opponents, it is okay if she is collateral damage. It is okay if these sensitive details are being put into the public domain. When we talked about the rescission motion earlier today, one of the journalists —

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER (15:32:35) — Order! The member for Yuroke will leave the chamber for the period of 15 minutes.

Honourable member for Yuroke withdrew from chamber.

Mr R. SMITH — One of the journalists tweeted that in that time, in just the one hour of that debate, he found résumés, contract details and medical records over and above what had already been reported in the paper. You can see these people who think it is hilarious. Do you know the worst thing that the Treasurer said this morning, which should strike fear into the hearts of every Victorian who believes that a government should keep their details confidential? He said, ‘I cannot guarantee that there is not more private information in those documents’. He cannot guarantee it. What does this government do when their mess is laid bare?

Ms Halfpenny — On a point of order, Speaker, why doesn’t the member for Warrandyte want to defend his leader? All we are hearing are things that have got nothing to do with the censure motion against the Leader of the Opposition.

The SPEAKER — There is no point of order.

Mr R. SMITH — Nothing to do with it? So the documents that were tabled in this house under the hand of the Premier have nothing to do with the censure motion, is that what you are saying? How ridiculous.

Then the Treasurer said, ‘Let’s not get distracted by this’. Let us not get distracted by the fact that medical records and financial records and the location of people who are in some personal danger are laid open for all to see. Let us also not forget that both the Minister for Mental Health and the Minister for Health have been on their feet and did not seem to care one little bit that medical and mental health records have been put online. Fancy having a health minister who does not care that Victorian health records are put into the public domain.

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — The member for Eltham! The member for Ringwood!

Mr R. SMITH — This government is corrupt to the core. It is rorting, it is addicted to falsehoods and addicted to falsifications. This government should be thrown out on its ear on 24 November.

The SPEAKER — Order! The member for Eltham on a point of order —

Mr R. SMITH — I have no doubt —

The SPEAKER — Order! The member for Eltham on a point of order.

Ms Ward — On a point of order, Speaker, it is incredibly rude that the member for Warrandyte continues to stand and speak when you have asked him to hold off. He continually refuses to acknowledge your orders.

The SPEAKER — There is no point of order.

Ms Ward — My point of order is that I do not know why he wants to bring in the national Liberal government’s flawed —

The SPEAKER — The member for Eltham will resume her seat. There is no point of order. The member’s time has expired.

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