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Monday, 21 June 2004
Page: 30874


Mr PRICE (1:05 PM) —The procedure for having a joint meeting of the House and the Senate in this House presided over by the Speaker actually commenced with the visit of George Bush Sr. Until the visit of George Bush Jr, there had been no problems with those arrangements. For my own part, I think the behaviour of two senators, Senators Brown and Nettle, is a matter of regret and placed you, Mr Speaker, in an invidious position. For my part, I fully support the action that you took in relation to that. Having gone through a bit of the history of these arrangements, I can say they derive from the US Congress, where distinguished speakers are invited to speak in the congressional hall while senators are also present. That is the history of the arrangements here, but clearly this report shows that the arrangements that served us so well in the past are not appropriate and I am pleased to say that the recommendations that the House Procedure Committee have made are consistent with that of the Senate procedure committee.

We have made two recommendations. Firstly, the committee recommends that when arrangements are made for distinguished persons to address both houses of parliament the venue for such addresses should continue to be the chamber of the House of Representatives. Secondly, the committee recommends that any future parliamentary addresses by visiting distinguished persons should be in the form of a meeting of the House of Representatives to which all senators are invited. We have dispensed with the idea that it is a concurrent meeting of the Senate, and that is probably the most appropriate way to go. I notice that in evidence to Senate estimates the President suggested that there was some ambiguity about which standing orders applied in a concurrent meeting. Happily, with these recommendations that will no longer be the case.

Again I commend our chairperson, the honourable member for McPherson—she does a splendid job chairing the committee—and our secretarial support. This Procedure Committee, with this report, has now brought down nine reports; we have previously presented to the House another eight reports. Two of those reports did not require a government response but six did. Unhappily, to date, not one of those six reports has been responded to by the government. The report Balancing tradition and progress: procedures for the opening of Parliament was tabled on 27 August 2001 in the 39th parliament. To date that report has not been responded to by the government, and I think that is a matter for regret.

In commending the report to all honourable members I say, with some pride in the work of the committee, that we have worked very productively in this parliament. Our reports, I think, will stand the test of time, even if they do not stand the test of a government response.

Last but not least, I say from a personal point of view—and today is an appropriate opportunity, given the large number of reports being tabled—there is the opportunity for the Procedure Committee to investigate using the Main Committee to table reports so that all members who work on reports have an opportunity to comment on them at the time of tabling. Hopefully that will be the subject of a recommendation in a future report. I commend the report.


The SPEAKER —Does the member for McPherson wish to move a motion in connection with the report to enable it to be debated on a future occasion?


Mrs May —Yes, Mr Speaker. I move:

That the House take note of the report.

I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.


The SPEAKER —In accordance with standing order 102B, the debate is adjourned. The resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for a future sitting and the member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.