Vic. Parliament News – April 2017

Seeking Regional Input on New Public Inquiries

A number of new parliamentary inquiries have been announced and are seeking input from Victorian regional communities.
The Penalty Rates and Fair Pay Select Committee is investigating the economic and social impact and cost of the Fair Work Commission’s recent decision to cut penalty rates to categories of Victorian workers. The Committee is also examining possible safeguards and federal legislative changes to protect vulnerable Victorian workers.
The Committee is seeking community input and invites written submissions by Friday, 19 May 2017.
“The parliamentary inquiry is an important opportunity for Victorians to have their say,” said Committee Chair, Gabrielle Williams.
“I encourage anyone with views and experiences to make a written submission to the Committee.
“We want to hear from a range of people in order to make meaningful recommendations to Parliament.”
For the full terms of reference and more information visit the Committee’s website.
Another new public inquiry, by the Family and Community Development Committee, is examining the health, care and wellbeing of mothers and babies in Victoria during the perinatal period.
Among the issues being considered are the availability, quality and safety of health services being delivered to mothers and babies; the adequacy of services for dealing with high risk and premature births; access to and provision of an appropriately qualified workforce; and disparity in outcomes between rural, regional and metropolitan locations.
Submissions are welcome until Friday, 14 July 2017. See the Committee’s website for the complete terms of reference and details on making a submission.
The Legal and Social Issues Committee has also commenced its new inquiry into medically supervised injecting centres.
The Committee has been asked to provide a review and consideration of current regulations, policing policy and relevant reports on this issue. Submissions can be made until Thursday, 13 April 2017. Further details are available online.
As well as commencing new inquiries, Victorian parliamentary committees have presented some new reports recently, including a report on the P-plate driving age. In that report, a majority of the Law Reform, Road and Community Safety Committee recommended that Victoria’s probationary licence age be lowered to 17.
In making this recommendation, the Committee found that young people in non-urban areas may be at greater risk of disadvantage than those in metropolitan areas due to a number of factors, including issues of accessibility.
“Accessible transport options may make a real difference to the social connectivity and healthy development of young people in rural and regional areas,” the Committee said in its report.
Reflecting the broad debate in the community around these issues, there were differing opinions among members of the Committee about the safety risks associated with lowering the P-plate driving age. The majority view was to recommend that the Victorian Government lower the probationary driving age to 17 years.
Committee Chair Geoff Howard said the Committee was in full agreement that if the Government does not lower the driving age to 17 years, it should introduce an exemption process that allows young people to apply for a probationary licence at 17 years based on grounds of undue hardship.
In its new report on ride sourcing services, the Economy and Infrastructure Committee has called for a level playing field for all commercial passenger vehicle operations in Victoria.
“The ‘new economy’ that allows for collaborative consumerism and sharing of resources is exciting and brings new opportunities for business and consumers. But it also presents challenges for traditional industries,” Committee Chair, Bernie Finn said.
“In the case of the taxi industry in Victoria their services have been undercut by unregulated ride sourcing services offered by Uber. What the government needs to do now is to implement regulations to ensure a level playing field for all participants in the commercial passenger vehicle industry,” he said.
To find out about calls for submissions to committee inquiries, upcoming public hearings and new reports presented to parliament, subscribe free of charge to the Victorian Parliament’s news alerts.
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Kat Baddeley

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