Member for Gembrook

Ms THOMAS (Macedon) — I am very proud to be a member of this place representing 38 volunteer Country Fire Authority brigades and three State Emergency Service units. It has been my privilege to join with these volunteers at brigade and unit meetings, social events, fundraisers, tank and equipment handovers, and medal presentations over my time as a member of this place.

Across my electorate the people of Macedon have faced adversity on many occasions. The Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 saw seven lives tragically lost in my community, and for many the memory of this terrible fire still haunts them. More recently we have seen significant fires in Riddells Creek, Darraweit Guim and Lancefield. Of course we all remember the horror of Black Saturday. The people of my community will never forget that despite the best efforts of our emergency services workers, career and volunteer, 173 Victorians lost their lives on that day.

At this point I want to acknowledge the member for Yan Yean and the member for Frankston, volunteer and career firefighters respectively, both of whom put their lives on the line on that day to protect others. It is against this backdrop that I call on the Leader of the Opposition to immediately sack the member for Gembrook for lying in this place about the contribution of career firefighters on that day.

Mr Clark — On a point of order, Speaker, the member is breaching standing order 118 in making false accusations about the member for Gembrook, accusing him of dishonesty and misrepresenting remarks which were actually extolling the capacity of volunteers. I ask you to instruct her to comply with standing order 118.

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! The Deputy Premier further on this point of order, in silence.

Mr Merlino — On the point of order, Speaker, the member for Gembrook clearly misled this Parliament, claiming that career firefighters were not on the fireground for 5½ hours. He then doubled up the very next day and claimed he was talking about the Bunyip Ridge fire. Again, wrong, wrong, wrong! These were hurtful comments that career and volunteer firefighters will never forget.

The SPEAKER — Order! The rulings and precedents of this place are very clearly set out in the latest edition of Rulings from the Chair. It does set out very clearly that the use of the word ‘lie’, or variants of that word, is an imputation against a member and imputations are disorderly. Over several months now those standards have been slipping and the debate in this chamber has not been in accordance with those rules. Members on both sides of the house should reflect on the language that they use about other members of this house, no matter how strongly they feel about an issue. I uphold the point of order. I ask the member for Macedon not to impugn another member.

Ms THOMAS — Thank you, Speaker. By using the tragedy of Black Saturday to continue to fuel a false war between career and volunteer firefighters the member for Gembrook has shown that he is unfit to hold the position of shadow minister, unworthy to speak on behalf of emergency services workers, be they career or volunteer, and unworthy of a place on the opposition frontbench. The member for Gembrook has shown contempt for this place.

The SPEAKER — Order! The member for Rowville.

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! Without the assistance of the Deputy Premier.