Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (10:41): I am pleased to rise to speak on Mr Limbrick’s motion, and I am pleased to see that Mr Limbrick is enjoying some of his freedoms at the moment. It looks like he is at an early opener nightclub going by the red lights that we are seeing, which are bathing him in a beautiful slightly pink colour. We are seeing those freedoms and whoever thought that we would be broadcasting into Parliament from a nightclub. But this has brought us many unusual things, this year.
I do not actually have a problem with the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee continuing its investigations, but I note that Mr Limbrick does. I mean, he did not even agree with the last PAEC report. He wrote a minority report on it. So I guess this is the idea of having another go and hoping that PAEC does better, that it might say something that Mr Limbrick can agree with. And as someone who has been on PAEC, I would certainly suggest that it is about asking the questions, but it is also about listening to the answers. I think we saw some appalling behaviour on PAEC, where we saw people with their feet up on the tables, posting to Telegram, not listening to the answers, not listening to the people that they asked to appear in front of them—the discourtesy!
So I hope, if PAEC is doing a further investigation, that they do it with courtesy and with manners and that they actually listen to the answers and, one hopes, that they do look at the failure of the vaccination rollout, do look at the failure of Victoria being right down the back of the queue for getting vaccines from the federal government and do look at the way the federal government treated Victorian businesses separately. In looking at the recommendations from PAEC’s report, I would say that some of the aspects of the new pandemic legislation actually go to many of the recommendations that PAEC made, which were about greater transparency, which were about more information and greater accountability.
Now, I note that in the new Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Pandemic Management) Bill 2021, the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee will have a role to play in assessing the regulations and the human rights assessments. As someone who sits on SARC, I am looking forward to the extra level of work that those regulations will bring to SARC. I am also pleased that what we are seeing in this pandemic legislation is the fact that we will finally see the health advice published.
The assessment of the charter of human rights that Mr Limbrick has been advocating and calling for now will be published under the new legislation. The reasons behind any orders will now be published. There will now also be an expert advisory committee, an independent committee, that will also be scrutinising the decisions made by this government or whatever else they might like to scrutinise in regard to pandemic orders or the pandemic itself. The new legislation is bringing in many of those aspects and many of the criticisms that Mr Limbrick has laid out in this chamber over the past months, so I am certain that he will be positive about some aspects of that new legislation.
Mr Finn interjected.
Ms PATTEN: I may be being a bit hopeful there, mightn’t I, Mr Finn? Certainly if we want PAEC to be doing this as well, I know the amount of work that we do in PAEC. I know that these questions possibly do not necessarily need a separate inquiry; they could be asked in PAEC in the normal accountability questioning that PAEC does of each ministerial portfolio. However, if Mr Limbrick would like PAEC to do this on top of the work that SARC is doing and on top of the work that the advisory committee will be doing, I am not going to oppose this motion. But in looking at the recommendations that have come out of this I am not sure that this is illuminating information that we did not already know.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Mr Limbrick’s motion 28/10/21