Parliamentary Labor Party
Wednesday, 4 May 2011
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (15:35): Many commentators refer to this Labor government as the most incompetent and most secretive in this state's history. Sadly, I think now we must add to that the most scandal-ridden government that this state has ever seen. We have a government led by a Premier and a former deputy premier whose well-publicised scandals have been widely circulated in the media. We have a former attorney-general whose only experience of the courtroom was generally as a defendant.
We have a former road safety and gambling minister (Mr Koutsantonis) who did not pay his gambling debts and had more speeding and traffic offences than your average hoon driver. Sadly, now, of course, we have a member of the Labor party on (for the first time, I think in my memory) child porn charges in South Australia. This is the sad record of this scandal-ridden government that members opposite represent.
One of the problems this government has is the arrogance of its leadership and its factional leaders and the lack of talent that it appoints to this chamber and to another place. Its team here in the Legislative Council, Mr President, as you would well know, is full of failed candidates, factional hacks and union bosses who pensioned off or retired into the Legislative Council so the young Turks can take their positions within the unions.
You have failed candidates like the Hon. Mr Holloway and the Hon. Ms Gago, who kept losing marginal seats, and the only way the Labor Party could stop them from losing marginal seats was to pop them into the Legislative Council. So the sad end of this tale is that we end up with the accidental leader—the Steven Bradbury of Labor Party politics; the last person standing as the winner of the leadership ballot in the Labor party—the Hon. Gail Gago as leader.
What has that come about as a result of? The former leader, the Hon. Mr Holloway, was dumped by his own faction a year after the election, when he wanted to go on. Then we have the Hon. Bernard Finnigan, who resigned in circumstances still not explained by him or, indeed, the Premier.
Then the Premier looks at what else is left on the Legislative Council backbench, and he sees, first, the Hon. Mr Holloway waiting for any superannuation or salary increase in July so that he can take early retirement and the Hon. Carmel Zollo, who is desperately trying to hang on to her seat to maximise her superannuation until the next election, whilst people like Nicole Cornes and others snap at her heels for her seat, but I know the Hon. Carmel Zollo will hang on and not let her have it.
There is you, Mr President, who we know next year will retire to take a long trip around Australia in your campervan, so that the Hon. Mr Gazzola can at least get the taste of the President's benches before potentially any change in government at the next election; then, of course, we have the Hon. Mr Wortley—enough said, Mr President! He has been in more factions than probably exist, and no-one would appoint him to anything, and that is why he has not been appointed to the ministry.
The Premier looks at the backbench, and what is he left with? He is left with no talent, the hopeless and, basically, what has to happen is that he has to appoint, not a permanent leader, but an interim acting leader, or an acting leader for an interim period, or whatever it is that the Hon. Gail Gago indicated that she had been appointed. The sad fact of life is that, as the Hon. Gail Gago says, she has been here for five or six years. She is not up to the task. I think she probably within herself knows she is not up to the task of being a minister, or indeed, being the Leader of the Government.
We saw the chaos that ensued yesterday in terms of her own handling of question time but, more importantly, the procedures in this house. When she did not have second reading speeches available, she was unable to stand up and move procedural motions to manage the government business on behalf of the government.
I think it is widely accepted, even by her own supporters, that she is a waste of space on the front bench, but that is basically what we have left because of the arrogance and because of the fact that the Labor factions, the Labor leaders, will appoint and continue to appoint failed candidates, factional hacks and retired union bosses coming here for a retirement home before they take the superannuation from the parliament.