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Monday, 1 December 2003
Page: 23285

Mr PRICE (1:35 PM) —I rise to support the comments of the chair of the Procedure Committee and commend the work of all members of the committee. In particular, I commend the recommendations of the two reports to the House. In relation to the trial of the additional tellers, although there was some suggestion that the rotation of tellers may have been the problem—as the chair has suggested—it was reconciling the two individual tally sheets on each side that caused an unacceptable level of problems. For that reason, the Procedure Committee has recommended that the House abandon the trial of additional tellers and return to the use of two tellers. It is further recommended that perhaps the tellers could stand closer to Hansard as a way of improving the previous arrangements.

Mr Deputy Speaker Causley, it is important that you pass on to the Speaker the thanks of the committee and the House for bringing forward proposals that go to making second reading speeches more lively debates in the chamber. As the chair of the committee has said, overwhelmingly the response to the proposals at that conference was very positive, and we have recommended accordingly. At the beginning of this parliament, at Federation, a standing order was made that lasted until 1965 that no member may read a speech. That standing order is now defunct, but Erskine May, in the 22nd edition in 1997, still suggests:

A member is not permitted to read his speech, but he may refresh his memory by reference to notes.

Clearly, the Speaker and the Procedure Committee have in mind that a member should not only make a speech but should be prepared to accept questions. In these proposals, and as part of any sessional order, members may in the first instance opt out of the proposal. In other words, as the chair has suggested, they will be allowed to speak for only 15 minutes. For those members who are prepared to accept a question, there is no time limit on the response, so it would only take one question. Providing the speaker's remarks were relevant to the second reading speech and the question, they would be able to take the remaining five minutes.

It is hoped that there might be some moral pressure, if you like, so that members would migrate to a situation where they would be happy to contemplate taking questions on their second reading speech. It means that, hopefully, you will not be speaking to an empty chamber. There may be members on your side, as well as on the other side, who are prepared to ask a question. I believe that whilst interventions are different in the Main Committee, as you would appreciate, Mr Deputy Speaker, they have again allowed a degree of spontaneity in that chamber. I think that, increasingly, members who have accepted interventions and utilised them are feeling more and more comfortable. This is a different procedure. I think it is worth while that we should have it. I believe that there is an opportunity for the Manager of Government Business, the Leader of the House, to introduce these new proposals in February 2004. (Time expired)