Mr NORTHE (Morwell) — On this motion I am just incredulous to hear the commentary coming from the member for Macedon. The only person missing in action is the member for Macedon and indeed Christian Zahra, who will be back! The comments from those opposite have been ambiguous at best, ill informed and just plain stupid.
We have had the member for Essendon and others conceding that Luke O’Sullivan is a good bloke and will be a good member of Parliament. On the other hand we have this nonsensical game of comparing Mr O’Sullivan’s circumstances to those of Mr Jennings. It is just a ridiculous rationale that they are applying in rejecting the appointment of Mr O’Sullivan.
Much has been said about the contravening of constitutional matters. But here we have those opposite trying to justify their absolutely appalling position through a range of ridiculous assertions and comparisons. This government is basically saying on the one hand, ‘We will not conduct a joint sitting because of Mr Jennings’s suspension’, but then we have had others saying, ‘The Nationals took too long to appoint Mr O’Sullivan’. Who knows what will be next?
The government is trying to compare the circumstances of Mr O’Sullivan with those of a member of Parliament who was suspended by not just The Nationals and Liberals but the Legislative Council, which comprises a number of parties. You cannot compare the circumstances of Mr O’Sullivan with those of Mr Jennings. The reality is: does Mr Jennings still have an office to work out of? Yes. Does Mr Jennings still have staff? Yes. Is Mr Jennings still able to work in his electorate? Yes.
Honourable members interjecting.
The SPEAKER — Order! The member for Morwell is entitled to silence. The member for Macedon will come to order.
Mr NORTHE — Is Mr Jennings still being remunerated for his employment? Yes. Is Mr O’Sullivan having any of those things? The answer is no, so comparing the two is absolutely nonsensical. If anyone thinks that, by comparison, Mr Jennings’s circumstances are the same as Mr O’Sullivan’s, they are absolutely delusional.
My good friend the member for Gippsland South in his contribution made a very good statement, I might say. I will quote from what he said:
This Labor government stands absolutely condemned for moving to adjourn the house without convening a joint sitting. It stands condemned for denying the democratic rights of the people of Northern Victoria Region. It stands condemned for base and petty politics, condemned for the damage it is doing to the reputation of this Parliament and ultimately condemned for the childish, petulant behaviour it is displaying on this matter.
That absolutely sums it up, and I condemn the government for not hosting a joint sitting to appoint Mr O’Sullivan.