Program – Business of the House

Ms ADDISON (Wendouree) (12:27): I am pleased also to rise to speak in favour of the government business program, following on from the Leader of the House and the member for Mount Waverley. It is welcome news that the opposition is not opposing the government business program this week.

Just reflecting upon this government, it has a strong reform agenda, and we are continuing on with that reform agenda this week. We have not wasted a day in the last 3½ years, and we are getting on with the job of making Victoria an even better and fairer place to live, to work and to study. And it is even now a better place to raise children after the groundbreaking announcement made last week by the Premier, the Minister for Early Childhood and the Minister for Women to transform our approach to early education.

Ms Staley: On a point of order, Speaker, this is a narrow debate about the government business program. The member for Wendouree is so far off that topic in talking about what the Premier might have announced last week. It is not even a bill before the house.

A member interjected.

The SPEAKER: Order! I was distracted momentarily. I ask the member on her feet to make sure she is referring to the government business program.

Ms ADDISON: I am certainly talking about our great reform agenda, and that reform agenda is continuing this week with the Treaty Authority and Other Treaty Elements Bill 2022 that is before the house. This week we will continue to bring about important and significant change with the introduction of the Treaty Authority and Other Treaty Elements Bill 2022. This is truly significant legislation that I will speak more to later in my contribution.

I would like to be able to just take a moment, though, to acknowledge that it is our last sitting before the winter recess and to thank the Speaker, as well as members of the Department of Parliamentary Services, for the great work that is being done running our Parliament and supporting all members.

I would particularly like to thank the staff who work in the chamber, Hansard, security, catering, committees, the procedure office, the mailing and printing office and everyone else who contributes to make this place work. You are greatly appreciated.

I would also like to send my best wishes to the Clerk, Bridget Noonan; the Assistant Clerk—Committees, Vaughn Koops; and the Assistant Clerk Procedure and Serjeant-at-Arms, Paul Groenewegen, who are away with COVID. I hope they have a full and speedy recovery.

As already mentioned, we do have a very, very busy sitting week with five pieces of legislation before the house. We have the Children and Health Legislation Amendment (Statement of Recognition and Other Matters) Bill 2022. We have the Education Legislation Amendment (Adult and Community Education and Other Matters) Bill 2022. We have the Local Government Legislation Amendment (Rating and Other Matters) Bill 2022. We have the Sustainable Forests Timber Amendment (Timber Harvesting Safety Zones) Bill 2022 and, as was previously mentioned, the Treaty Authority and Other Treaty Elements Bill 2022.

The Andrews Labor government is clear that it wants to improve outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians. And we are united in our support for treaty and Aboriginal Victorians. We will not play politics with treaty and reconciliation. This is a historic step forward for all Victorians as we reset the relationship between the state and Victoria’s First Nations people, and it is one I am very proud to support. We know that the best outcomes for Aboriginal people come from Aboriginal people, and this bill is self-determination in action.

Tomorrow will be a great day in the history of Victoria, as the bill to allow the Treaty Authority to be established as a truly independent umpire to oversee negotiations between government and Aboriginal Victorians will be read for a second time. What a privilege it will be to be in the house and to welcome members from the other place to join us for this landmark day in the history of Victoria. And I note once again that we are leading the nation with our steps towards treaty.

I welcome that we will have the co-chairs—Bangerang and Wiradjuri elder Geraldine Atkinson, elected co-chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, and Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung nation Marcus Stewart, elected co-chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly—also attend the house. I welcome that the visitors may carry possum skin cloaks, wooden message sticks, wooden digging sticks and other objects into the chamber and that this is a real sign of respect of this place for the cultures of our First Nations people.

This is a very special time to be in the Parliament, and I am so proud to be here. I commend the government business program to the house.

Click here to read more of my contributions in Parliament. To access further Hansard transcripts, head to the Parliament of Victoria website.