18th October 2018
Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) (13:13): By leave: It is somewhat with trepidation that I enter the fray. As a member of the crossbench who will be obliged to vote on this motion, I believe I should state my views on what is occurring in this House. I think my views might be shared, at least in large part, by other members of the crossbench. I find this particular debate to be one of the most base and unedifying debates I have seen in this Chamber, not because of the carriage of it but because of its subject matter. Can we just all slow down a little bit and think about just what we are debating? I think much of that has been lost in the debate.
First, I congratulate the Government, including the Minister for Veterans Affairs, on their support for the Invictus Games and the work that has been done to bring the Invictus Games to Sydney. I believe that every person in New South Wales supports the Invictus Games and what they stand for. I believe that members of the Opposition would not have it in their hearts to refuse to support injured returned servicemen. I came into the Chamber when a division was being conducted on the procedural motion for a matter to be given precedence. I asked the Whip about it because the standard procedure—one that has been adopted for a long time by the crossbench—is that we will support the Opposition's right to bring matters before this House. The crossbench does so because the Opposition is an integral part of our political system in its role of holding the Government to account.
Opposition members do not have opportunities to speak and bring forward matters in this House that Government members have. Thursdays, which are private members' days, provide the Opposition with one opportunity to bring forward matters in this House. The crossbench normally would support the Opposition in doing so. In relation to matters such as the motion before the House, during my term in this House some variation in procedure has emerged whereby the Opposition or even the Government might cede and accept the other political party's motion because of its inherent goodwill. I believe that should have been the case yesterday. I also understand that with that procedural motion, the Opposition may have made a mistake.
Mr Christopher Gulaptis: They dropped the ball.
Mr GREG PIPER: The member for Clarence is right. With all due respect to Opposition members, they did drop the ball. The Opposition should have foreseen what might happen and should have been more tactical. But this debate is not about tactics. This issue is much too important and goes beyond tactics. The Opposition could have called for a division or voted with the Government, as the three Independents and a member of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party did, because of the subject matter of the motion. But the Opposition has an inherent right to bring forward matters in this House, and I believe that generally should to be supported. The Opposition made a mistake, but I do not, and will not, accept that any member of this House across the board has any malice or ill will towards the Invictus Games. I congratulate the Minister on what he has done to this point, but not on this motion. I cannot support the motion.
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