Mr MORRIS (Mornington) (20:07): The question before the Chair is whether the Premier and the other ministers of state possess the confidence of this house.
A motion such as this is an extreme step, but these are extreme circumstances. If this motion succeeds, it has the potential to send all of us back to the voters, and frankly that is an outcome that I would welcome.
So it is not a step we have taken lightly, but as the House of Representatives practice reminds us, one of the essential tenets—or the essential tenet—of the Westminster system is that the government must possess the confidence of the lower house.
This government does not have the confidence of opposition members, and it is clear that it does not have the confidence of a growing number of government members.
The question is: do those members have the stomach to support this motion? Do those members have the stomach to stand up for what they know is right or are they going to bow cravenly to the dictates of the Premier?
Because that is what the Premier has become—a dictator in all but name. It is clear that he views his cabinet, his party room and, most of all, this Parliament as mere rubber stamps, not institutions to be consulted and not groups to be consulted but simply bodies to be directed and then expected to carry out the direction without question.
So Victoria at the moment is not operating as a democracy. I would say that unless the house asserts its rights, proves itself capable of tempering the actions of this Premier, makes it clear that it must be consulted, requires the immediate restoration of genuine cabinet government and demands accountability from its ministers and from the public service, then the long-held freedoms that we on this side of the house and I am sure many on the government side hold dear will genuinely be at risk.
I have no time this evening for an extensive examination of what is now a very lengthy list of the failings of this government, but what is already very clear from what we have heard from the Coate inquiry is that this is a government that has no concept of responsibility, no concept of accountability.
It is a government where decisions become the stuff of legend—no-one knows who took them, no-one knows who is responsible for carrying them out. Under those circumstances it is hardly surprising that there is no accountability.
The then Secretary of Department of Premier and Cabinet, the Secretary of the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services have all admitted that their ministers had not been briefed in a manner commensurate with public expectations, let alone parliamentary expectations.
We have a Premier who, if the evidence that has been given is to be believed, lets his secretary decide what he is allowed to know; a health minister, or now a former health minister, who for months at a time did not think to ask about infection controls at the quarantine program; and a jobs minister who did not ask to be briefed about the contractual arrangements for the most critical logistical exercise in the history of this state.
Why? If they were not briefed, if they were not making decisions, then what the hell were they doing?
Why was this travesty allowed to occur? There are only two possible answers to why these ministers and this Premier have conducted themselves in this way: either they are lazy or they are incompetent.
Whichever it is, they are unfit to conduct the business of government on behalf of the Victorian community and it is time for them to go.