Tuesday, 30 November 2021 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY Page 8563/8564
The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (16:11): Today, I would like to talk about the many uncertainties that the people of South Australia and we as members of parliament here face. As we approach the end of the parliamentary session, it is still uncertain whether this parliament will set the extra sitting periods or even if we are sitting tomorrow and Thursday of this week.
Two attempts have already been made to adjourn the house until Tuesday 3 May 2022. No sitting periods for five months is far too long, in my opinion, and I am very disappointed with the Minister for Energy and Mining in his role as Leader of Government Business that he has not arranged and set further sitting days.
People outside this house, and in my region in particular, were dumbfounded when they heard the minister in charge of government business last sitting week had attempted to cease any more parliamentary sitting days until after the next state election. I repeat: that was after the next state election and to return in May 2022, over five months with no representation in this house for our communities.
There are many important bills still on the Notice Paper—32 under Government Business and another 59 under Private Members Business, and still many more to be introduced. Even today, I introduced two more bills to be debated. These issues and concerns with members introducing new bills or amending existing bills are very important, not only for the members introducing the bills but also for the people of South Australia.
I have heard comments from the government side that we have sat many more days this year than last year. Well, we are in very trying times, with lots of uncertainty out there, lots of pressure, and those involved deserve to have us represent them in this house. I have also heard, unsubstantiated, that some members have made arrangements for overseas holidays. That is unsubstantiated, but we are here to represent people. I ask members: who are we here for? Are we here to represent ourselves or to represent people?
These bills that I mentioned a bit earlier need to be addressed and important decisions must be made. Mr Deputy Speaker, you are aware that we just opened our borders on the 23rd of this month. With that came great joy from people from interstate being able to come in to see loved ones and vice versa. I saw very emotional reunions on the TV between people who had not seen each other for months and months. It was really terrific to see that, but we have increased the uncertainty about the effects of COVID-19 on the South Australian community leading up to Christmas. Whilst it is very heartwarming to have people coming into our community from other states, we also have the new variant moving across the world from Africa, and that is something we have to be really careful about.
I have had several people inquiring at my electorate office, as have other members, about the latest movement in the requirements that we need to abide by. The regulations and requirements change on a regular basis. South Australia has already faced its own potential setback since opening the borders as the new omicron COVID-19 variant was confirmed in Australia on Sunday 28 November. New South Wales confirmed the first known case of the new variant and since that time Australia has confirmed six cases, as I understand it, of this particular variant, one being in the Northern Territory.
Our border directions for international travel have already been changed, and I am sure further changes to directions will increase confusion and misunderstanding of information. Local and small businesses need guidance on managing their business and greater certainty as we head towards our busy Christmas season.
However, it appears that those concerns and issues are not really important. We, as representatives of the people, are here to represent them and to ask questions and get answers for them in these trying times. To the general public, we appear not to be here to serve them but only here to serve ourselves. I know members in this house are here to serve the people.
I ask that this house makes it quite clear what the sitting days for this week are. In my view, parliament should sit for one or two sessions before we go to the writs in the new year because we are in trying times and we need to be here to reassure the people of South Australia that we have their wellbeing at the front of our concerns. I ask the house to make that decision today.