The Hon. Rob Lucas MLC

The Hon

Rob Lucas MLC



Adelaide Workers' Homes Bill

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 30 April 2013.)

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (17:00): I rise to support the second reading of the Adelaide Workers' Homes Bill. Again, this is a relatively simple bill that seeks to establish a new constitution for the organisation. It seeks to change the name of the organisation from the Adelaide Workmen's Homes to the Adelaide Workers' Homes, it seeks to remove the limit which prevents property ownership more than 100 miles from the Adelaide GPO (I suspect it probably converts that to kilometres), and it provides additional flexibility to trustees to manage the organisation, to change their name, and enter into developing partnerships, etc. For those reasons the Liberal Party supports the bill before the council.

The only point I would like to make in my brief second reading contribution is that this is a hybrid bill and, as such, requires the conduct of a select committee. This is an issue that our dear friends in another place have not always treated as fondly, or with as close adherence to the law, as perhaps the Legislative Council has. I think that is, in large part, testimony to the leadership shown by our Clerk in this particular chamber, who continues to remind us of what the law says, which standing orders relate to hybrid bills, and the requirement for select committees.

Whilst our friends and colleagues in the other place have, I suppose, in the strict letter of the law, conducted a select committee, my understanding, from reading the Hansard of the committee debate, is that it was established on one day, met for a millisecond, concluded the same day and then reported to the House of Assembly.

The Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins: It's not the first time they have done that.

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: As my learned colleague the Hon. Mr Dawkins indicates, it is not the first time they have done that. That is a farce, a travesty of those particular provisions. I have long held the view—and still hold the view—that it should not be beyond the wit or wisdom of governments, Labor or Liberal, in relation to these issues and their management of the program and, with something that is as uncontroversial as this, to introduce it in such a time frame as you can actually follow the required provisions. That is, that you do have a select committee, that you do advertise in relation to it, and that you at least take some evidence from the key stakeholder or stakeholders in relation to the issue.

I suspect that 99 times out of 100 these are not controversial issues, but there have been examples in the past where, whilst the government of the day may well have been led to the view that it was uncontroversial and no-one had a contrary view, the work of the select committee attracted evidence from people who opposed the provisions. The reason for the hybrid bill provisions, the reason for having a select committee, is to give people the opportunity to put their alternative point of view if they wish. This sort of farce of saying, 'Okay, we've held a select committee, we've established it today, we told nobody that it's on, we don't advertise, we don't take any evidence and then we report', is a farce and it snubs the nose at the rules that govern the procedures of our parliament.

I am not going to test the waters here because it is not an issue that we have discussed in our party room but, at some stage, an upper house may well wish to test the waters and say, 'Well, look, that wasn't a sensible select committee being conducted on a hybrid bill. We'll establish our own select committee and do the job properly.' One would need to take advice from the Clerk, but it would be my guess that there is nothing that prevents the second chamber from actually doing the job that is expected of the parliament in relation to a hybrid bill.

I hasten to say that what that requires is that governments need to introduce a bill knowing that it is a hybrid bill and giving reasonable time for anyone who might want to put an alternative point of view in relation to the particular matter to do so. There have been some examples where that has been rushed through but it has been done in about two weeks with the gap between the parliamentary sessions, so one house will agree to establish a select committee, you advertise and if you do not get any evidence other than from the key stakeholder, you meet with the key stakeholder, take any evidence and report in two or three weeks' time when the parliament—

The Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins interjecting:

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: There were a number of them. There was one down in Naracoorte at the town square which I recall. My colleague the Hon. Mr Dawkins refers to the Waite Arboretum which I think the Netherby Kindergarten people had a particular view about contrary to the views of the majority. Prince Alfred College—there have been a number. What I am saying is that it does not necessarily need to hold up proper or appropriate consideration of a piece of legislation which, as I said, 99 times out of a hundred is likely to be accepted by all and sundry.

However, this is a safety net. It is a safety valve to allow either a dissident group, a dissident family or a dissident individual—or indeed in some cases it may well be a significant number of people—who take a different point of view to express that to a parliamentary committee and to have that reported and considered in the debate on the legislation.

In supporting the bill, I do urge members to at least consider these particular provisions in relation to hybrid bills and the use of select committees and to consider that, if we are going to have select committees—which I think we should—in relation to these particular issues, they should at least be conducted in an appropriate fashion and not in the farcical way our friends in another place have conducted the committee in relation to this particular bill.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Minister for Forests, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) (17:08): I thank the opposition for their second reading contribution and support for this bill. Indeed, this bill is quite straightforward. It allows the Adelaide Workmen's Homes Incorporated to have a legislated constitution and to clarify that the association may exercise certain powers and functions to give effect to that purpose. I appreciate the support and I look forward to this being dealt with expeditiously through the committee stage.

Bill read a second time.

In committee.

Clauses 1 to 16, schedule and title passed.

Bill reported without amendment.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Minister for Forests, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) (17:12): I move:

That this bill be now read a third time.

Bill read a third time and passed.

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