Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 27 May 2003
Page: 15044


Mr ALBANESE (3:40 PM) —On indulgence, Mr Speaker: I personally appreciate that you have taken this matter and your position seriously in informing the House that I indicated to you before I asked the question that there was an unusual question coming, without detailing to you its precise nature. I certainly did not give notice to the member for Macquarie that the question was coming. I did that on the basis of being conscious of the fact that I could not find any precedent for it occurring. As you would be aware, we on this side of the House did not challenge your ruling by way of a vote last Thursday because this was an unusual issue. We felt that it was legitimate for you to have time to consider a ruling on this matter. Since then, I contacted you in your office last week and had discussions with you then and again this week.

The position in which we find ourselves is that we are prepared certainly to accommodate further consideration of the issue if we know that the issue is going to come back to the House tomorrow. I am reluctant to concede the point that it is legitimate for a committee chair to refer a question to a member of the executive about the operation of the committee. With regard to your statement referring to the fact that there were budgetary considerations which the minister answered, I would ask that you consider that, by allowing the question to the committee chair, it is not therefore within the power of the committee chair to refer it to the executive. It certainly is within your power to rule out of order a question to the committee chair. Once that question to the committee chair has been ruled in order, you have ruled that it is a legitimate question about the functioning of the committee, which you did under standing order 143. Therefore, it is not legitimate for the committee chair to then refer it to the executive. I have a very firm position on this. It is in the interests of the parliament for us, where possible, to get agreement and consensus across the chamber. Indeed, I am conscious of the fact that you have a difficult job at times in finding a balance between the roles that you play. If you will indicate that we can all consider the matter and that tomorrow you will report back to the House on the questions and the issues that have been raised here, then I think that will be to the satisfaction of the House. Would you do that?