Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

Leaderless Opposition

Empty Podium


Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) (16:32:04): I am very happy to support the motion moved by the member for Miranda. It seems as if the criterion for speaking for the Opposition on this motion is that nobody has ever mentioned the member as a possible candidate for the leadership. The member for Cessnock went straight where he should not have gone and started speaking about the Hon. Penny Sharpe as the acting Leader of the Opposition. Of course, that reminds us all that when the former member for Auburn was replaced as the Leader of the Opposition last year not one member of the Legislative Assembly on the Opposition side of the House was seen as fit to be the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Those opposite had to go to what Paul Keating called the unrepresentative swill of the upper House in order to get a deputy leader.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I remind the member for Rockdale that he is on two calls to order.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: When this Parliament, the Fifty-Seventh Parliament, was convened lawfully yesterday under section 30 of the Constitution of New South Wales there was no Leader of the Opposition. There was no-one to lead the alternative Government. It is a complete and utter disgrace that there was a vacant seat in the Opposition benches today during question time—there was no member for Maroubra. I know there was a big swing against him in his own electorate, but one would have hoped that the electors of Maroubra were at least shown the courtesy of having their representative in this Parliament sitting there in question time. And why was he not there?

[Opposition members interjected.]

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member will be heard in silence.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: He was not there because he could not suffer the indignity of having the member for Keira as the acting interim Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly. This is comedy country; this is a disgrace. The people of New South Wales deserve better than this because a good, vibrant democracy relies on having a strong and vibrant Opposition, but those opposite treat the leadership of the Opposition as some casualised position. Labor talks about having no casual employment but it is treating a very important role in our democracy as some sort of joke. It is a disgrace.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I remind the member for Port Stephens she is on three calls to order.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: A rotating leadership would be consistent with Labor's socialist ideals.