Resumed from 19 September.
[Speeches and comments from various members]
Hon MARTIN ALDRIDGE: At this point I would like to move a reasoned amendment. The Minister for Environment representing the Minister for Finance has moved that the bill be read a second time. I move —
That the motion “That the bill be now read a second time” be amended to delete all words after “That” and substitute —
the bill be read a second time only after the government commits to using the part proceeds of this additional duty to reverse its $41 million cuts to education so as to continue the operation of Moora Residential College, camp schools, Landsdale Farm School, Herdsman Lake Wildlife Centre and restore the 20 per cent raided from the agricultural education farm provisions trust.
By brief explanation, unlike other parties, we will not give the government a $100 million cheque. If others are satisfied that the government will address these things in due course, I would like to hear those assurances given to the house before this bill passes this chamber. The Nationals WA will not give the government a blank cheque because we are not convinced that they are doing the right thing by the communities of Western Australia and we do not believe that this Premier is governing for all Western Australians. I commend the motion to the house.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Hon Matthew Swinbourn): Members, Hon Martin Aldridge has moved a motion in his name to amend the motion before us. By way of explanation for the house, a member who wishes to place on record any special reasons for not agreeing to the second reading of a bill may move what is known as a “reasoned amendment” to the question for the second reading. Such an amendment is typically to leave out all words in the main question after the word “That” and to add other words. A reasoned amendment is intended to offer reasons for rejecting a bill. It may be declaratory of some principle adverse to, or differing from, the principles, policy or provisions of a bill; or it may express opinions as to any circumstances connected with the introduction or implementation of a bill; or it may be otherwise opposed to its progress. Supporting such an amendment is tantamount to opposing the bill. Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice states the following rules that govern the contents of reasoned amendments —
(1) The principle of relevancy in an amendment ... governs every such motion. The amendment must ‘strictly relate to the bill which the House, by its order, has resolved upon considering’, ...
An amendment on the second reading need not be confined to the contents of the bill but may refer to matters which are cognate to it. It continues —
(2) The amendment must not be concerned in detail with the provisions of the bill
Nor should it allege defects which could be solved by amendments to the bill which could be moved in committee. It continues —
(3) An amendment which amounts to no more than a direct negation of the principle of the bill is open to objection.
A reasoned amendment, if carried on the second or third reading of a bill, is fatal to further progress of the bill, and no order is made for the second or third reading on a future day.
[Speeches and comments from various members]
HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [2.36 pm]: I rise on behalf of the Greens to indicate that we most certainly will not be supporting the move to kill this bill. It is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, as has already been articulated, the Greens do not do cross deals. That is not the way we operate. We have never operated that way in the Parliament and we are not about to suddenly chuck out three decades’ worth of practice and start doing it now. Secondly, I think the most important thing to point out in the context of this reasoned amendment is that the Greens have absolutely no desire to kill the substantive bill. My colleague Hon Diane Evers has articulated well the Greens’ position on the Duties Amendment (Additional Duty for Foreign Persons) Bill 2018 so I do not feel the need to repeat why the Greens are very happy to support the bill in its substantive form.
One of the things I will express is my appreciation for the honesty in both the Liberal Party’s contribution and also Hon Rick Mazza’s contribution just then. They both made it very clear that one of the reasons they are prepared to support the amendment in front of us is that they do not support the substantive bill. I absolutely accept the authenticity of both Hon Rick Mazza and Hon Peter Collier representing the opposition in remaining opposed to the education cuts and I am happy to accept that is the case, but it has to be acknowledged in this chamber that both parties have also made it clear in this chamber that they are happy to see the bill die a death on its own terms anyway. The Greens do not hold that view. The Greens are very strongly of the view that it would be a very bad thing to stop over $120 million from coming into the state coffers. I need to talk about the lack of authenticity that has been demonstrated by National Party members in the campaign they chose to run in their desire for support of the “kill the bill” amendment. I have been speaking out about the education cuts since they were first announced in December and I agree with the comments that have been made in this place about how much distress they have caused and how unnecessary it has been. I remain absolutely committed to wanting to see a reversal of the education cuts. I think it was a mistake by the government to cut education in the way it did, or at all. Education is meant to be one of the cornerstone principles on which the Labor Party prides itself, and I think it was an error of judgement to make the cuts it has made. I absolutely accept that it has had a disproportionate impact on regional Western Australians.
I am particularly concerned that, over the course of the last few weeks when I have spoken to people—the same people I have been speaking to since last December about the Nationals’ amendment—is how deeply misled they have been about the nature of this amendment. People have genuinely been led to believe that if this amendment were to be supported, it would mean millions of dollars would be set aside to ensure that the money was repaid and the cuts reversed. When it is pointed out to them that the nature of the amendment is such that there will be no money coming in and that the bill will die in its entirety, the level of despair coming back from those people is palpable. People feel like they have been played for fools. They feel like they have been lied to about the nature of this amendment, because we know that a percentage of zero dollars is zero dollars. The Greens are not prepared to play that game.
There has been a narrative about what the money is going to be spent on. It is true that we have been told that the money is going to be spent on election commitments around TAFE. That was not part of the deliberations that resulted in the Greens supporting this bill, because the reality is that we judge each piece of legislation on its own merits, and we determined that this was a worthwhile bill in its own right. But I will say something about the fact that it is going to be spent on TAFE, if indeed that is what it is going to be spent on. I keep standing in this house and talking about the need for additional investment in TAFE, so if that is indeed where the money is going, that is fantastic. We need it for this state. We know that the fees put in place under the previous government played a direct role in reducing the number of people being able to enrol in and attend TAFE. That was really bad, because we know that we need to further train up people to ensure that we meet future training demand for Western Australians, so I am glad if this is where the money is going to go. The reality is that the Greens do not seek to have money tied for certain purposes; but in any event, what would that matter when we have a situation in which the Nationals are trying to ensure that no money is raised? There will not be any reversal of cuts if that occurs.
What I did not hear during the more than two hours’ contribution by Hon Martin Aldridge was where the Nationals WA actually stand on the issue of foreign duties. It is very unclear. The Liberal Party has been very honest and up-front and has articulated clearly why it objects; Hon Rick Mazza has been very clear and honest about why he objects to the particular substantive position of the bill. But we are yet to hear where the National Party actually stands on this. All we know is that it is keen to blackmail the government into achieving a particular outcome through a mechanism that would mean that that outcome could not be achieved. If that is not fundamentally dishonest, I have absolutely no idea what is.
I would like to talk a bit about the campaign that has been run. It is absolutely true that the level of outrage, despair and distress experienced by people in the Moora community needed to be acknowledged. The day I found out that the federal Liberal government had decided to fund Moora Residential College and that the state government had as a result made the decision to ensure that the college stayed open I, for one, was thrilled; I was really happy. I was very, very happy for that community and those people, and I remember saying in my office, “Great. That particular campaign’s been won—really glad we’ve got that outcome.” But I am starting to wonder: is there a bit of bad blood around this? I am wondering whether perhaps there is a little misery coming from the National Party— that it was relying on this outrage continuing in order to achieve an electoral outcome. That has not happened because the bulk of where its energy was focused has effectively dissipated. I am glad that the Moora community has managed to achieve that outcome; it is a very, very positive thing. I think the decision to close the college in the first place was wrong and I think it would have had a highly detrimental impact on the families already living there as well as families who planned to live there in the future.
I have continued to work with people who are concerned about the decision that was made by the previous government—a government of which Hon Martin Aldridge was a member—to move the International School of Western Australia to the Doubleview Primary School site. That decision has continued under this government, but if it were to be reversed, it would save $20 million from the education budget. I am very disappointed that that has not been seriously considered when we are looking at so many other cuts, including the cuts to Herdsman Lake Wildlife Centre; we are really talking about a tiny amount of money for such an enormous investment. We are also talking about Landsdale Farm School, which provides a wonderful service and plays a very unique role within the education landscape.
I note that I am the only person who keeps talking about what is happening with Canning College and Tuart College, but we should be very concerned about what is happening with their reduction in course options— particularly for people who want to complete years 11 and 12 but may not want to go on to university. We have spoken about community kindergartens, we have spoken about the ag school, we have spoken about the camp schools—all these things, I think, are going in the wrong direction. I also think it was a huge mistake to remove Aboriginal education staff from the district offices. That decision needs to be reversed. I have had complaints from people in the regions including, interestingly, from the police, who have said that it is making their lives more difficult and that they want to see that decision reversed.
However, this is not the mechanism by which any of that is going to be achieved. As I say, I think it is fine if members of the opposition and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party WA wish to make a point. If they object to the substantive motion, they can certainly make their point. But if Hon Martin Aldridge is serious about wanting to reverse the cuts, there is a simple tool: we need only one more vote to pass the gold levy. I am quite certain that if that regulation were to be reintroduced, it would be possible for the honourable member to have discussions with the Treasurer and perhaps see whether half a billion dollars coming back into the coffers could make a difference. I suggest to the honourable member that if he is dinkum about wanting extra dollars coming in and wants to see them tied, that is a way through which it could actually occur.
Several members interjected.
Hon ALISON XAMON: I will be very clear for the honourable member—the grown-ups are speaking now, thank you—that the Greens will support the gold levy, should it be reintroduced. We need only one more vote. If the member wants to have discussions with the Treasurer, perhaps there can be room to talk about a reversal of the education cuts. Perhaps there can be talk about how we can lock in contracts for the community resource centres he has referred to. Let us talk about how there could be a whole range of moneys going into health and mental health in the regions. Let us talk about the extension of telehealth, which is an important and essential provider of health services in this state. We could talk about what could happen with the provision of community legal centres within regional centres. We could talk about how we could help family and domestic violence services for women, particularly in the regions. We could talk about how we could improve our child protection services in the regions; I am quite sure that Hon Nick Goiran would have a whole range of suggestions for how money could be invested in child protection services in the regions. We could make sure that we have more public sector workers out in our regions. We could ensure that a whole range of community services providing the essential roles for our regions were able to be put back in. A mechanism could be employed, because the reality is that if those negotiations happened around the gold levy now and it was made quite clear to the Treasurer that the Greens would support —
Hon Martin Aldridge interjected.
The ACTING PRESIDENT: Order, members!
Hon ALISON XAMON: The Greens are going to support the gold levy anyway, but as the member has made it quite clear that the Nationals’ vote is up for negotiation because presumably they are ideological gypsies who stand for nothing, they can surely enter into negotiations with the Treasurer. That is if the Nationals are dinkum about it, but they are not. They are not dinkum about it. Instead, they are trying to present us with an option to kill off a revenue source that has no capacity to ensure that any cuts to education funding are reversed. If indeed the money is going to go into TAFE, it also removes the capacity for TAFE. What is the problem that the Nationals have with TAFE and training? I do not understand. I would have thought we all want to see significant investment in that area, but apparently not. Apparently it is not an area the Nationals want to see any investment in. I am really, really concerned about the way the Nationals have chosen to play this card. I am not sure when this reasoned amendment was initially put up whether the Nationals had the knowledge it was going to effectively kill the bill.
When I began talking to the Nationals about the amendment when it was first put on the notice paper, that issue was never put to me—not at any point. The amendment was very much put to me in the same terms that it has been put to members of the community who have been so concerned about the cuts; that is, if they support the amendment, it means that money will be set aside and that means that the cuts will be able to be reversed. They were very much the terms. It was not until last week, when I basically made it clear that I understood that this amendment was going to kill the bill and we would never see that money, that the Nationals said, yes, the amendment would kill the bill. Do members know what? The Greens do not engage in blackmail; that is not how we do it. We try to lobby the government, we try to make the argument and we try to raise concerns. We also have not been standing in the way of legitimate revenue-raising measures. Members in this place will always have different positions about what is deemed to be a reasonable revenue-raising measure and what is not. So far, the measures that have been presented in this place have been deemed to be appropriate by the Greens, so we have been prepared to support them. Some people do not support some of them. I note there have been consistent positions on the gold levy—for example, by One Nation, which has made it quite clear that it does not support the levy on its own terms—by the Liberal Party, by the Liberal Democrats, and by the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party. But we heard today that the Nationals are quite happy to potentially put anything on the table in order to get particular outcomes for areas they think need to be supported.
I am saying that we need one more vote for the gold levy. Is that not what people were chanting out the front? When I say people chanting, I mean National Party members. In this case, we need only one more vote in order to get the gold levy, in which case, go crazy. There are so many things that could be funded; there are so many things that could be put on the table. The Nationals could put things that they talk about on the table. Admittedly, I never hear them talk about mental health, alcohol and other drugs, health, family and domestic violence, justice issues or child protection—I do not hear those things. But I do hear about the education cuts and I have heard about the community resource centres. At the very least, they could be at the forefront of those negotiations. If the National Party was dinkum about this—I do not believe it is—it would immediately be getting on the phone to the Treasurer, Ben Wyatt, and saying, “You know what? We want to see the money coming in to reverse these things. Let us start talking about the gold levy.” The National Party could tie those discussions in, because it has made it clear that its votes are up for grabs as long as it gets what it wants, regardless of how things have been presented. That is what the National Party has said about this bill; why not the gold levy as well? The Greens will support the gold levy if it comes back anyway. We need one more vote. Do members know what? There is one more vote needed, and then we will be able to get education cuts reversed, as well as a whole range of other changes. This amendment will absolutely not achieve that outcome. It will ensure only that a legitimate revenue-raising source, which the Greens support, will not make its way into the coffers and we will not be doing anything to help reverse education funding cuts.
[Speeches and comments from various members]
Amendment put and a division taken, the Acting President (Hon Martin Aldridge) casting his vote with the ayes, with the following result —
Amendment thus negatived.
Second Reading Resumed
[Speeches and comments from various members]
Hon STEPHEN DAWSON: — answer that for the member at another time.
I again thank all members for their contributions to the second reading debate today and over the last few days. I commend the bill to the house.
Question put and a division taken, the Acting President (Hon Martin Aldridge) casting his vote with the noes, with the following result —
Question thus passed. Bill read a second time.
The Deputy Chair of Committees (Hon Martin Aldridge) in the chair; Hon Stephen Dawson (Minister for Environment) in charge of the bill.
Clause 1: Short title —
[Speeches and comments from various members]
Progress reported and leave granted to sit again, on motion by Hon Stephen Dawson (Minister for Environment).