Victoria’s politicians need to lift their game and behave better, the re-elected speaker has urged as parliament resumes.
After claiming a thumping 55-seat win at the November 24 poll, Labor has not just a clear lower house majority, but its MPs Colin Brooks and Shaun Leane are now speaker and president of their respective chambers.
As he took the chair, Mr Brooks warned MPs of the public’s declining trust in democracy and politicians.
“The tone of debate in this chamber and behaviour in this chamber declined over the last two or three parliaments,” Mr Brooks said.
“I believe that this needs to change. Victorians deserve and expect better from their parliamentary representatives.
“We need to press the reset button on the standard of parliamentary debate and behaviour, so I call on all members to adopt thoughtful, considerate and a respectful approach to debate.”
Mr Brooks became speaker last term when his Labor colleagues, now-retired Telmo Languiller and Don Nardella, were forced to stand down as speaker and deputy after being caught rorting taxpayer funds.
Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien backed Mr Brooks’ call.
“I feel embarrassed when I see those school groups in the gallery in question time. It makes me want to hang my head and I see the kids hanging their heads too,” Mr O’Brien told reporters.
“It would really help if government ministers actually answered questions asked by the opposition, instead of using question time to attack the people in parliament.”
All 128 MPs were sworn in during Wednesday’s one-day sitting.
The ceremonies will continue into the afternoon with Governor Linda Dessau to meet all MPs and formally open the 59th parliament.
Question time begins at 4pm followed by the expected tabling of annual reports.
Premier Daniel Andrews’ first order of business is to introduce improved nurse-to-patient ratios.
It was a promise made at Labor’s election campaign launch and a bill not voted on in the previous term.
Re-elected upper house MP and Reason Party leader Fiona Patten plans to introduce a bill to legalise cannabis use and another to wipe criminal records of people who have not committed crimes after a period of time.
The Greens, now reduced from eight to four MPs, plan on introducing bills to replace Yallourn coal-fired power station with renewable sources, tackle religious school discrimination exemptions and seek a royal commission into planning decisions.
Senator Derryn Hinch was in the upper house public gallery to watch his Justice Party MPs Stuart Grimley and Tania Maxwell get sworn in.
A third Justice Party candidate, Catherine Cumming, was sworn in as an independent after falling out with the party less than a month after the election, over preferences and leadership.
Australian Associated Press