An Andrews Labor Government will introduce historic reforms to clean up the conduct of the Parliament – saving time, saving taxpayer dollars and making Ministers more accountable and honest.

Under the Liberals, the Parliament has become a circus. Even traditional institutions like Question Time have been abused and misused for political gain, with Ministers hiding behind antiquated rules to avoid scrutiny.

Labor’s 11-point-plan to reform Parliament will abolish ‘Dorothy Dixers’, a stage-managed practice whereby Ministers pre-prepare questions and rehearse answers for the purposes of grandstanding.

Labor will also give the Speaker and the President the power to determine that a Minister’s answer is ‘non-responsive’ or irrelevant to the question that was asked, requiring the Minister to provide a written response.

The ability for Opposition Members to ask supplementary, or follow up, questions will be introduced.

Time limits for answers during Question Time will also be reduced, to discourage political grandstanding and allow for more questions during the 60-minute period.

The ‘Consideration in Detail’ stage will be introduced as a standard feature to enhance scrutiny.

Among the other changes to make the Parliament’s time more productive, verbal Notices of Motion – which are considered an inefficient way to conduct business – will be replaced in most cases by written notices.

Labor’s changes will help Victorians trust their Parliament, after four years of chaos, confusion and cover-ups under the Napthine Government. It’s about raising the standard of behaviour and making our Parliament honest again.

Quotes attributable to Mr Pakula:

“The Parliament should be home to democracy and honesty, not Liberal chaos and political cover ups.”

“Under Labor, Ministers will no longer be able to hide behind stuffy rules, waste time grandstanding or sneak through changes in the dead of night.”

“Victorians have lost faith under the Liberals, but Labor will make our Parliament honest again.”

Key Facts

Labor’s 11-point reform plan will:

• Introduce supplementary questions in the Legislative Assembly.
• Abolish Dorothy Dixer questions in both chambers, instead providing Ministers with the ability to make two minute Ministerial Statements where new initiatives, projects and achievements can be briefly explained or announced.
• Reduce time limits for answers to questions. For the substantive questions, three minutes, and for the supplementary questions, one minute.
• Ensure that Government Members are still able to raise questions to Ministers on behalf of their electorates. At the conclusion of Question Time, both Government and Opposition Members will be able to ask questions of Ministers, the answers to which will be provided on notice.
• Provide the Speaker and the President with the power to find that a Minister’s answer has been non responsive to the question and to require the Minister to provide a written response – to the satisfaction of the Presiding Officer – by the next sitting day.
• Abolish verbal Notices of Motion, to be replaced with written Notices of Motion provided to the Presiding Officer. Motions will be able to be read out only if they are brought on for debate.
• Introduce a 30-day time limit for the answering of Questions on Notice and enforce the 30 day time limit for Adjournments response in the Legislative Assembly.
• Make Consideration in Detail (committee stage) a standard feature for the passage of Bills in the Legislative Assembly (as it is in the Council). Labor will give consideration to the creation of a Legislative Assembly Committee Room for the purpose of the detailed consideration of Bills.
• Provide a non-Government chair for the Accountability and Oversight Committee of the Parliament.
• Review sessional and standing orders, looking at a range of other matters including sitting hours and the scheduling of more time for MPs to raise matters on behalf of their communities in Parliament.
• Reform the Parliamentary Estimates and Accounts Committee to ensure that Budget hearings are more rigorous, akin to the Senate Estimates process.

Published on October 16, 2014