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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 116


Mr ALBANESE (Leader of the House) (11:42 AM) —I ask leave of the House to amend the notice of motion relating to the amendment of standing orders 1, 2, 29, 31, 33, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 54, 55, 86, 100, 104, 108, 132, 133, 141, 143, 192, 192B, 215, 222, 229 and 232; the deletion of standing orders 41A and 192A; and the insertion of new standing order 222A, in the terms as circulated to honourable members in the chamber.

Leave granted.


Mr ALBANESE —I thank the Manager of Opposition Business and I move the motion as amended:

1 Maximum speaking times (amendments to existing subjects, as follows)

Adjournment of the House or Main Committee—to end the sitting

Whole debate in House on Monday and Tuesday

1 hr

Whole debate in House on Wednesday and Thursday

30 mins

Whole debate in Main Committee

Not

specified

Extended debate (if required by Minister to reply etc)

10 mins

Each Member—no extension of time can be granted

5 mins

Member who has already spoken to the motion may speak again for one period if no other Member rises to speak

5 mins

Minister in extension of debate

5 mins

(standing orders 31 (House) and 191 (Main Committee))

Bills—Main Appropriation—second reading

Mover

no limit

Leader of Opposition or Member representing

no limit

Bills—Other Government—second reading

Mover

30 mins

Leader of Opposition or Member representing

30 mins

Minister at conclusion of debate

15 mins

Bills—Private Members’ (All)—presentation

Presenter

10 mins

(standing order 41)

Bills—Private Members’ (Government)—second reading

Mover

30 mins

Prime Minister or Member representing

30 mins

Leader of Opposition or Member representing

30 mins

Bills—Private Members’ (Non-Government)—second reading

Mover

30 mins

Prime Minister or Member representing

30 mins

Bills—All—second reading

Any other Member not specified above

15 mins or lesser time determined by the

Selection Committee

(standing order 222)

Committee and delegation business on Mondays

Announcements of inquiries

Committee chair or deputy chair

as determined by the Selection Committee

Reports

Each Member

10 mins or lesser time determined by the Selection Committee

(standing orders 39, 40, 41A, 192)

Matter of public importance

Whole discussion

1 hr 30 mins

Proposer

15 mins

Member next speaking

15 mins

Other Members

10 mins each

(standing order 46)

Members’ statements

90 second statements

Whole period on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays

15 mins

Each Member (but not a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary)

90 seconds

(standing order 43)

3 minute constituency statements

Whole period

30 mins

Each Member

3 mins

(standing order 193)

Private Members’ business on Mondays

Whole debate

As determined by the Selection Committee

Each Member

(standing orders 41 and 41A)

Question Time

Each question

45 secs

Each answer

4 mins

(standing order 97)

 

2 Definitions

Membermeans any Member of the House of Representatives. Private Member means a Member other than the Speaker or a Minister. Non-aligned Member means a Member who is neither a government Member nor an opposition Member.

29 Set meeting and adjournment times

(a)   The House shall meet each year in accordance with the program of sittings for that year agreed to by the House, unless otherwise ordered and subject to standing order 30.

(b)   When the House is sitting it shall meet and adjourn at the following times, subject to standing orders 30, 31 and 32:

 

1

2

3

  4

day

meeting commences

adjournment proposed

House

adjourns

Monday

10.00 am

9.30 pm

10.30 pm

Tuesday

2.00 pm

9.30 pm

10.30 pm

Wednesday

9.00 am

7:30 pm

8.00 pm

Thursday

9.00 am

4.30 pm

5.00 pm

 

31 Automatic adjournment of the House

(a)   At the time set for the adjournment to be proposed in standing order 29, column 3 (set meeting and adjournment times) the Speaker shall propose the question— That the House do now adjourn. This question shall be open to debate and no amendment may be moved.

(b)   If this question is before the House at the time set for adjournment in standing order 29, column 4 (set meeting and adjournment times) the Speaker shall interrupt the debate and immediately adjourn the House until the time of its next meeting.

(c)   The following qualifications apply: Division is completed

33 Limit on business after normal time of adjournment

The normal time of adjournment is the latest time specified in standing order 29, column 4 (set meeting and adjournment times). No new business may be taken after the normal time of adjournment unless by order of the House before that time.

34 Order of business

The order of business to be followed by the House is shown in figure 2.

 

Figure 2. House order of business

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

Acknowledgement of country

Prayers

Acknowledgement of country

Prayers

9.00 am

 

9.00 am

 

Acknowledgement of country

Prayers

 

 

10.00 am

Petitions ( to 10.10am )

Committee & delegation business and private Members’ business

Divisions and quorums deferred

Government Business

Government Business

12 noon

Government Business

 

 

 

 

 

1.45 pm

90 sec statements

Acknowledgement of country

Prayers

1.45pm

90 sec statements

1.45 pm

90 sec statements

2.00 pm

Question Time

2.00 pm

Question Time

2.00 pm

Question Time

2.00 pm

Question Time

 

 

 

approx

3.30 pm

Documents, Ministerial statements

approx

3.30 pm

Documents, MPI, Ministerial statements

approx

3.30 pm

Documents, MPI, Ministerial statements

approx

3.30 pm

Documents, MPI, Ministerial statements

 

Government Business

approx

5.00 pm

Government Business

approx

5.00 pm

 

4.30 pm

Adjournment Debate

 

5.00 pm

6.30 pm

Divisions and quorums deferred 6.30-7.30pm

6.30 pm

Divisions and quorums deferred 6.30-8.00pm

Government Business

7.30 pm

Committee & delegation reports and private Members’ business

7.30 pm

Adjournment Debate

 

8.00 pm

 

8.00 pm

 

 

9.30 pm

Adjournment Debate

9.30 pm

Adjournment Debate

10.30 pm

 

10.30 pm

 

 

38 Acknowledgement of country and prayers

On taking the Chair at the beginning of each sitting, the Speaker shall make an acknowledgement of country in the following terms:

I acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples who are the traditional custodians of the Canberra area and pay respect to the elders, past and present, of all Australia’s Indigenous peoples.

The Speaker shall then read the following prayers:

Almighty God, we humbly beseech Thee to vouchsafe Thy blessing upon this Parliament. Direct and prosper our deliberations to the advancement of Thy glory, and the true welfare of the people of Australia.

Our Father, which art in Heaven: Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

39 Announcements concerning inquiries and presentation of reports

(a)   The Chair or Deputy Chair of a committee may make a statement to inform the House of matters relating to an inquiry during the periods for committee and delegation reports on Mondays (standing order 34). The Selection Committee shall recommend time limits for such statements.

(b)   Members may present reports of committees or delegations:

(i)   as determined by the Selection Committee, during the periods for committee and delegation business on Mondays (standing order 34); or

(ii)   at any time when other business is not before the House.

(c)   Members may make statements in relation to these reports:

(i)   during the periods for committee and delegation business on Mondays in the House and Main Committee (standing orders 34 and 192); the Selection Committee shall determine time limits for statements, of not more than 10 minutes for each Member; or

(ii)   at any other time, by leave of the House.

(d)   The Member presenting a report may move without notice, a specific motion in relation to the report. Debate on the question shall be adjourned to a future day.

(e)   If, on Mondays, the Speaker presents a report referred to in this standing order, the following steps are deemed to have occurred in respect of the report — a motion to take note of the report, debate on the motion to be adjourned to a later hour and the order of the day to be referred to the Main Committee for further consideration within any parameters determined by the Selection Committee.

(f)   Unless otherwise ordered, a report presented in accordance with this standing order shall be made a Parliamentary Paper.

40 Resumption of debate on reports

(a)   After presentation of reports on Mondays proceedings may be resumed on motions in relation to committee and delegation reports moved on an earlier day.

(b)   For debate in accordance with paragraph (a) the Selection Committee shall determine:

(i)   the order in which motions are to be considered;

(ii)   time limits for the whole debate; and

(iii)   time limits for each Member speaking, of not more than 10 minutes.

(c)   During the period provided by standing order 192 proceedings may be resumed in the Main Committee on motions in relation to committee and delegation reports referred that day or on an earlier day.

41 Private Members’ business

(a)   In the periods set for committee and delegation reports and private Members’ business under standing orders 34 and 192, private Members’ notices and orders of the day shall be considered in the order shown on the Notice Paper. When the time set by standing orders 34 or 192 or determined by the Selection Committee ends, the Speaker shall interrupt proceedings and the matter shall be listed on the Notice Paper for the next sitting.

Private Members’ bills—priority

(b)   The Selection Committee, in making determinations:

(i)   shall give priority to private Members’ notices of intention to present bills over other notices and orders of the day; and

(ii)   shall set the order in which the bills are to be presented.

First reading

(c)   When each notice is called on by the Clerk, the Member in whose name the notice stands may present the bill, together with an explanatory memorandum (if available), and may speak to the bill for no longer than 10 minutes. The bill shall be then read a first time and the motion for the second reading shall be set down on the Notice Paper for the next sitting.

(d)   If, on Mondays, the Speaker presents a bill for which notice has been given by a private Member, the first reading of the bill is deemed to stand referred to the Main Committee. When the bill is called on in the Main Committee by the Clerk, the Member sponsoring the bill may present an explanatory memorandum (if available), and may speak to the bill for no longer than 10 minutes. The bill shall be then read a first time and the motion for the second reading shall be set down on the Notice Paper for the next sitting.

Second reading

(e)   The Selection Committee may determine times for debate of the second reading. If the motion for the second reading is agreed to by the House, further consideration of the bill shall be accorded priority over other private Members’ business and the Selection Committee may determine times for consideration of the remaining stages.

Alternation of notices

(f)   Subject to paragraph (b)(i), the Selection Committee shall provide for the consideration of private Members’ notices to alternate between those of government and non-government Members.

Private Members’ motions

(g)   If, on Mondays, the Speaker presents a copy of the terms of a motion for which notice has been given by a private Member, the following steps are deemed to have occurred — the motion is deemed to have been moved and debate on the motion adjourned to a later hour and the order of the day referred to the Main Committee for further consideration in accordance with any parameters determined by the Selection Committee.

Participation of Speaker and Deputy Speaker

(h)   The Speaker and Deputy Speaker may participate in Private Members’ business.

41A TO BE DELETED

43 Members’ statements

At 1.45 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the Speaker shall interrupt business and call on statements by Members. The Speaker may call a Member, but not a Minister (or Parliamentary Secretary*), to make a statement for no longer than 90 seconds. The period allowed for these statements shall extend until 2 pm.

* Including Assistant Ministers who are Parliamentary Secretaries

54 Bells at start of meeting of the House

At each sitting the bells shall be rung for five minutes before the appointed meeting time, calling Members to the meeting. The Speaker shall take the Chair and, if a quorum of 30 Members is present, commence the meeting as provided by standing order 38 (acknowledgement of country and prayers). If a quorum is not present standing order 57 (count out) shall apply.

55 Lack of quorum

(a)   When the attention of the Speaker is drawn to the state of the House and the Speaker observes that a quorum is not present, the Speaker shall count the Members present in accordance with standing order 56.

(b)   On Mondays, if any Member draws the attention of the Speaker to the state of the House between 10 am and 12 noon, the Speaker shall announce that he or she will count the House at 12 noon, if the Member then so desires.

(c)   On Mondays, if any Member draws the attention of the Speaker to the state of the House between the hours of 6.30 pm and 7.30 pm, the Speaker shall announce that he or she will count the House at 7.30 pm, if the Member then so desires.

(d)   On Tuesdays, if any Member draws the attention of the Speaker to the state of the House between the hours of 6.30 pm and 8 pm, the Speaker shall announce that he or she will count the House at 8 pm, if the Member then so desires.

(e)   If a quorum is in fact present when a Member draws attention to the state of the House, the Speaker may name the Member in accordance with standing order 94(b) (sanctions against disorderly conduct).

86 Point of order

(a)   Subject to standing order 104, a Member may raise a point of order with the Speaker at any time. After the question of order has been stated to the Speaker by the Member rising to the question of order, consideration and decision of every other question shall be suspended until the matter is disposed of by the Speaker giving a ruling thereon.

(b)   A Member interrupted by a point of order must resume his or her seat.

(c)   During a division, Members may speak while seated to a point of order arising out of or during the division.

100 Rules for questions

The following general rules apply to all questions:

(a)   Questions must not be debated.

(b)   A question fully answered must not be asked again.

(c)   For questions regarding persons:

(i)   questions must not reflect on or be critical of the character or conduct of a Member, a Senator, the Queen, the Governor-General, a State Governor, or a member of the judiciary: their conduct may only be challenged on a substantive motion; and

(ii)   questions critical of the character or conduct of other persons must be in writing.

(d)   Questions must not contain:

(i)   statements of facts or names of persons, unless they can be authenticated and are strictly necessary to make the question intelligible;

(ii)   arguments;

(iii)   inferences;

(iv)   imputations;

(v)   insults;

(vi)   ironical expressions; or

(vii)   hypothetical matter.

(e)   Questions must not refer to debates in the current session, or to proceedings of a committee not reported to the House.

(f)   The duration of each question is limited to 45 seconds.

104 Answers

(a)   An answer must be directly relevant to the question.

(b)   A point of order regarding relevance may be taken only once in respect of each answer.

(c)   The duration of each answer is limited to 4 minutes.

108 Order of notices

The Clerk shall enter notices on the Notice Paper in the order in which they are received, and before orders of the day. Standing orders 41 (private Members’ business), 42 (removal of business), 45 (order of government business), 113 (motion not moved) and 222 (Selection Committee) also apply to the order of notices. A notice of motion becomes effective only when it appears on the Notice Paper.

132 New division in case of confusion, error or misadventure

(a)   If confusion, or error concerning the numbers reported by the tellers, occurs and cannot be corrected, the House shall divide again.

(b)   If a division has miscarried through misadventure caused by a Member being accidentally absent or some similar incident, any Member may move on the same sitting day, without notice and without the need for a seconder— That the House divide again.

If this motion is agreed to the question shall be put again and the result of the subsequent division shall be the decision of the House.

133 Deferred divisions on Mondays and Tuesdays

(a)   On Mondays, any division called for between the hours of 10 am and 12 noon shall be deferred until 12 noon.

(b)   On Mondays, any division called for between the hours of 6.30 pm and 7.30 pm shall be deferred until 7.30 pm.

(c)   On Tuesdays, any division called for between the hours of 6.30 pm and 8 pm shall be deferred until 8 pm.

(d)   The Speaker shall put all questions on which a division has been deferred, successively and without amendment or further debate.

(e)   This standing order does not apply to a division called on a motion moved by a Minister on Mondays and Tuesdays, during the periods specified in this standing order.

141 First reading and explanatory memorandum

(a)   Subject to standing order 41(d), when a bill is presented to the House, or a Senate bill is first received, the bill shall be read a first time without a question being put. A Member presenting a bill during private Members’ business may speak to the bill, before it is read a first time, for no longer than 10 minutes.

(b)   For any bill presented by a Minister, except an Appropriation or Supply Bill, the Minister must present a signed explanatory memorandum. The explanatory memorandum must include an explanation of the reasons for the bill.

143 Bill referred to committee

After the first reading but before the resumption of debate on the motion for the second reading:

(a)   a motion may be moved without notice to refer a bill to the Main Committee for further consideration as provided by standing order 183; or

(b)   a determination may be made by the Selection Committee as provided by standing order 222 to refer a bill to a committee for an advisory report. The determination may specify a date by which the committee is to report to the House. After an advisory report has been presented to the House, the bill may then be referred to the Main Committee under paragraph (a).

192 Main Committee’s order of business

The normal order of business of the Main Committee is set out in figure 4.

 

Figure 4. Main Committee order of business

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

9.30 am

3 min constituency statements

9.30 am

3 min constituency statements

approx

10.00 am

Government business and/or committee and delegation reports

approx

10.00 am

Government business and/or committee and delegation reports

10.30 am

3 min constituency statements

 

 

approx

11.00 am

Committee & delegation reports and private Members’ business

 

 

 

12.30 pm

Adjournment Debate

 

approx

1.00 pm

approx

1.00 pm

approx

1.30 pm

4.00 pm

Government business

4.00 pm

3 min constituency statements

4.00 pm

If required

 

If required

approx

6.30 pm

 

Committee & delegation reports and private Members’ business

 

 

 

approx

7.30 pm

9.00 pm

Grievance debate

 

10.00 pm.

10.00 pm

  

The meeting times of the Main Committee are fixed by the Deputy Speaker and are subject to change. Adjournment debates can occur on days other than Thursdays by agreement between the Whips.

 

192 a TO BE DELETED

192b Grievance debate

(a)   The order of the day for the grievance debate stands referred to the Main Committee and shall be taken as the final item of business each Monday.

(b)   After the Deputy Speaker proposes the question— That grievances be noted—

any Member may address the Main Committee or move any amendment to the question. When debate is interrupted after one hour or if it concludes earlier, the Deputy Speaker shall adjourn the debate on the motion, and the resumption of the debate shall be made an order of the day for the next sitting.

215 General purpose standing committees

(a)   The following general purpose standing committees shall be appointed:

(i)   Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs;

(ii)   Standing Committee on Agriculture, Resources, Fisheries and Forestry;

(iii)   Standing Committee on Climate Change, Environment and the Arts;

(iv)   Standing Committee on Economics;

(v)   Standing Committee on Education and Employment;

(vi)   Standing Committee on Health and Ageing;

(vii)   Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications;

(viii)   Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs; and

(ix)   Standing Committee on Regional Australia.

(b)   A committee appointed under paragraph (a) may inquire into and report on any matter referred to it by either the House or a Minister, including any pre-legislation proposal, bill, motion, petition, vote or expenditure, other financial matter, report or document.

(c)   A committee may make any inquiry it wishes to make into annual reports of government departments and authorities and reports of the Auditor-General presented to the House. The following qualifications shall apply to these inquiries:

(i)   Reports shall stand referred to committees under a schedule presented by the Speaker to record the areas of responsibility of each committee.

(ii)   The Speaker shall determine any question about responsibility for a report or part of a report.

(iii)   The period during which an inquiry into an annual report may be started by a committee shall end on the day the next annual report of the department or authority is presented to the House.

(iv)   If a committee intends to inquire into all or part of a report of the Auditor-General, the committee must notify the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit of its intention, in writing.

(d)   Each committee appointed under paragraph (a) shall consist of seven members: four government Members and three non-government Members, provided that if a non-aligned Member is appointed to a committee, such committee shall consist of eight members: four government Members, three non-government Members, and one non-aligned Member. Each committee may supplement its membership by up to four members for a particular inquiry, with a maximum of two extra government and two extra opposition or non-aligned Members. Supplementary members shall have the same participatory rights as other members, but may not vote.

(e)   As an exception to standing order 232 the Chair of the Standing Committee on Regional Australia need not be a government member.

222 Selection Committee

(a)   A Selection Committee shall be appointed to:

(i)   arrange the timetable and order of committee and delegation business and private Members’ business for each sitting Monday in accordance with standing orders 39 to 41;

(ii)   recommend items of private Members business to be voted on;

(iii)   select bills that the committee regards as controversial or as requiring further consultation or debate for referral to the relevant standing or joint committee in accordance with standing order 143. One member of the committee is sufficient to select a bill for referral; and

(iv)   subject to standing order 1, set speaking times for second reading debates.

(b)   The committee shall consist of eleven members: the Speaker, or in the absence of the Speaker the Deputy Speaker, the Chief Government Whip or his or her nominee, the Chief Opposition Whip or his or her nominee, the Third Party Whip or his or her nominee, three government Members, two opposition Members and two non-aligned Members. The Speaker shall be the Chair of the committee. A quorum shall be three members of the committee.

(c)   For committee and delegation business and private Members’ business, the committee may determine the order of consideration of the matters, and the times allotted for debate on each item and for each Member speaking.

(d)   In relation to committee and delegation business and private Members’ business the committee must report its determinations to the House in time for its decisions to be published on the Notice Paper of the sitting Thursday before the Monday being considered. In relation to bills the committee must report its determinations as soon as practical in respect of each bill or each group of bills.

(e)   Reports of the committee under paragraph (d) shall be treated as having been adopted when they are presented. Reports shall be published in Hansard.

222a House Appropriations and Administration Committee

(a)   A House Appropriations and Administration Committee shall be appointed to:

(i)   consider estimates of the funding required for the operation of the Department of the House of Representatives each year;

(ii)   provide to the Speaker for presentation to the House and transmission to the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, the committee’s estimates of amounts for inclusion in appropriation and supply bills for the Department of the House of Representatives;

(iii)   consider proposals for changes to the administration of the Department of the House of Representatives or variations to services provided by the Department;

(iv)   consider and report to the Speaker on any other matters of finance or services as may be referred to it by the Speaker;

(v)   consider and report to the House on any other matters of finance or services as may be referred to it by the House;

(vi)   make an annual report to the House on its operations;

(vii)   consider the administration and funding of security measures affecting the House and advise the Speaker and the House as appropriate; and

(viii)   consider any proposals for works in the parliamentary precincts that are subject to parliamentary approval and report to the House on them as appropriate.

(b)   When conferring with the Senate Standing Committee on Appropriations and Staffing, the House Appropriations and Administration Committee may:

(i)   consider estimates of the funding required for the operation of the Department of Parliamentary Services each year; and

(ii)   provide to the Speaker for presentation to the House and transmission to the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, estimates of amounts for inclusion in appropriation and supply bills for the Department of Parliamentary Services.

(c)   The committee shall consist of nine members: the Speaker as Chair, four government Members and four non-government/non-aligned Members. A quorum shall be three members of the committee.

(d)   The committee shall be assisted by the Clerk, Serjeant-at-Arms and officers of the Department of the House of Representatives appropriate to any matters under consideration.

229 Appointment of committee members

(a)   Members shall be appointed to or discharged from a committee by motion moved on notice.

(b)   Special arrangements are required for a change in membership when the House is not sitting and is not expected to meet for at least two weeks. The relevant whip must nominate any appointment or discharge of a member of a committee in writing to the Speaker. The change in membership shall take effect from the time the Speaker receives the written nomination. At the next sitting, the Speaker shall report the change to the House and the House shall resolve the membership of the committee.

(c)   If a committee is considering a bill referred under standing order 143, one or more members of the committee may be replaced by other Members by motion moved on notice. This does not affect the power of a general purpose standing committee to supplement its membership under standing order 215(d).

232 Election of committee Chair and deputy Chair

(a)   Before the start of business a committee shall elect a member as its Chair. Except as otherwise provided, the Chair shall be a government member. The Chair shall have a casting vote only.

(b)   A committee shall also elect a deputy Chair who shall act as Chair of the committee whenever the Chair is not present at a meeting. If neither the Chair nor deputy Chair is present at a meeting, the members present shall elect another member to act as Chair at the meeting.

This is a great day for parliamentary reform in this chamber. On this day we have very broad agreement, with a possible couple of exceptions, to begin down the road of parliamentary reform. These changes reflect the Agreement for a Better Parliament: Parliamentary Reform, as agreed by the Leader of the House on behalf of the Labor Party, the Manager of Opposition Business on behalf of the coalition and the member for Lyne on behalf of the non-aligned members, and signed on 6 September 2010.

Components of the changes also go to agreements reached between the government and the member for Denison and the government and the Australian Greens. Drafts of these amendments were provided to the opposition and non-aligned members on Saturday, and since then we have been engaged in discussion to ensure that there is as broad as possible agreement for these changes.

The government is committed to reform of the parliament and has a record of defending the rights of independent members to participate fully in parliamentary processes. This package of amendments seeks to make the parliament more accessible to all 150 members of the House of Representatives. It represents a transfer of power and influence in this place from a concentration in the executive, to bring a focus on the contribution that the 150 members of the House of Representatives can make. As an opposition member I moved a private member’s bill to ratify the Kyoto protocol—now done; I moved a private member’s bill to enact superannuation rights for same-sex couples—now done; I moved a private member’s bill to restrict the number of flights into or out of Sydney airport to 80 an hour—now done; and I moved a private member’s bill to allow for an Aviation Noise Ombudsman—now done. I know firsthand the contribution that individual members of parliament can make and I encourage members to take up these opportunities.

Importantly, however, for these changes to work, for the parliament to continue to operate effectively, there also must be cooperation from all 150 members. I said on the day of the group hug that without goodwill it is just a bit of paper. We need to continue to work in a cooperative way and build consensus wherever we can. By all means have differences, but recognise what our responsibilities to the nation are. Goodwill from all members will ensure that this package of reforms makes parliament a better place.

From the outset I would like to thank the member for Lyne for his perseverance and constructive attitude in these matters. He will continue to play a key role in shaping these reforms in practice, giving them the best shot of success and of course also reviewing their effectiveness. As the agreement stipulates, all of these reforms will be reviewed over the course of this five-week sitting period. All House related initiatives are to be subject to informal monitoring by the Procedure Committee, with the committee to hold round table meetings to discuss progress and any necessary refinements to the detail. The committee will present a formal report on the first year of operation of the new arrangements, but in between there should be discussion between the government, the opposition and the crossbenchers about how it works in practice and whether any refinements are needed prior to parliament returning next year. I also note that the trial of questions and answers at the end of speeches is implemented by sessional order only.

The government also acknowledges that there will inevitably be resource implications in developing and sustaining this new framework. Overall, these changes provide for almost quadruple the time allocated to and increased prominence of private members’ business, a more efficient question time with time limits on questions and answers, and better resourcing for and a restructuring of the committee system.

I will go through these changes in detail; however, firstly I want to make clear that not all the reforms contained in the Agreement for a Better Parliament require or indeed are suitable for implementation through the standing orders. These reforms will require development through cooperation and practice. Indeed, one of the contentious issues, the issue of pairing—whether it be pairing of the Speaker or pairing between members—has always been a matter of practice and is not reflected in standing orders. We believe that it is unfortunate that the opposition walked away from the commitment they signed up to, which was that the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker be paired in this House. That would have avoided some of the contentious issues regarding the election of the Speaker’s panel that had developed over recent weeks and was designed to ensure there was no political advantage, whoever held onto those positions. And it was quite clear that the Solicitor-General’s advice indicated that there was no constitutional impediment to that occurring, just a political impediment once the opposition realised that they were not going to be in a position to form the government.

I would like briefly to run through some of the aspects of practice to put on the record the government’s commitment, including a commitment to undertake all necessary consultations and processes to ensure these changes are implemented. The government is committed to the implementation, through agreement and practice, of: pairing arrangements—items 2 and 17 of the agreement; the proportionate allocation for non-aligned members of opportunities to speak or ask questions—items 4.6 and 5.3; the imposition of 10-minute time limits on ordinary ministerial statements—item 9.1; the use of extensive notes by members—item 4.9; and the allocation of additional time for consideration in detail—item 11.2.

In relation to committee restructuring, the government is also committed to the development of the role of the Liaison Committee of Chairs and Deputy Chairs—items 10.3 and 16.3. An external review of staffing in the House of Representatives committee office will be commissioned by the Department of the House of Representatives—item 16.2. Similarly, it is appropriate that members of the Standing Committee of Privileges and Members’ Interests work with their counterparts in the other place on the development of a draft code of conduct—item 19. The government is also committed to thereafter appointing an integrity commissioner—item 18.

Other matters will be given effect to by actions within government, in consultation as necessary, such as additional sitting weeks—item 15; electoral funding and truth in political advertising—item 22; and the establishment of a register of lobbyists. I note, though, that the additional sitting week issue has been brought through in spirit by the fact that this parliament has been resumed so quickly after the government being formed and that we will have five full sitting weeks in the latter part of 2010.

An external review of staffing levels in the Parliamentary Library, item 16.2, will be a matter for the President of the Senate, as well as for the Speaker. A review will be undertaken in conjunction with implementation of the government’s commitment to establish a parliamentary budget office, item 16.1. I reiterate the government’s commitment to the agreement with the Australian Greens that there be a dedicated time for debating and voting on private members’ bills and that the House of Representatives will debate private senators’ bills within six sitting days and then bring them to conclusion.

The government is also committed to facilitating votes on motions from Independents and minor-party members and ensuring that Independent and minor-party members receive a fixed and fair allocation of questions in each question time. I have spoken with the member for Melbourne and with Senator Bob Brown and I confirm our commitment to this. The government signed up to these reforms through the agreement. The government stands by that commitment.

I now turn to those items of the agreement which require standing order amendments. The first main area of reform is around the order of business of the House and the Main Committee, primarily to increase the time allocated to and prominence of private members’ business. Private members’ business, including committee and delegation reports, will be given priority on a Monday from 10 am to noon, commencing with the Petitions Committee report and statements for 10 minutes. A further period of committee and delegation business and private members’ business will be given priority in the chamber on a Monday from 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm. The selection committee will give priority to members from regional and rural electorates to deal with their motions and private members’ bills in the chamber during this period.

The Main Committee will regularly meet on Mondays from 10.30 am to 1.30 pm, commencing with a 30-minute period of three-minute constituency statements, as provided by standing order 193, followed by committee and delegation reports and private members’ business being given priority.

These amendments mean that an additional 6½ hours will be dedicated to private members’ business, bringing the total time allocated to nine hours. Four of these nine hours will occur in the main chamber. This is almost a quadrupling of time allocated to private members’ business and, in addition, votes on private members’ bills and motions will be held during government time. Further, members will be allocated 10 minutes—up from five minutes—when first presenting their bill to the House during private members’ business. A selection committee, chaired by the Speaker, will be established to determine the priorities and times for items of private members’ business and the times for individual speakers. This is one of the issues which have been dealt with by the draft standing orders being provided to the opposition and the crossbenchers. As a result of that, we have changed the provisions so that there will be an additional non-government member from the opposition, an additional government member and an additional member of the cross benches, so that two representatives from the cross benches will participate formally in the selection committee.

The Selection of Bills Committee, historically operated in the last parliament by the Chief Government Whip, Roger Price, and Chief Opposition Whip, Alex Somlyay, worked by consensus. I am sure that the new selection committee will operate in just the same way. The committee will also recommend which items will be voted on. In consultation with the Leader of the House, these items may then be allocated government business time for the remaining stages and the votes.

There are also a number of other amendments that again increase opportunities for members to raise in the House issues of concern to their electorate. Ninety-second statements will now take place prior to question time from 1.45 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. If members do not take up the opportunities, the extent of that availability might be a matter for review for next year—that is something which I and the Manager of Opposition Business agree might occur. Given that it is in the agreement, we have agreed to move forward in that way. This will provide 30 members with an opportunity to make a 90-second statement in the House each week. It will triple the number of statements by providing members with 20 additional statements per week, all of which will now occur in the House main chamber rather than in the Main Committee.

The adjournment debate will also be extended to an hour on Mondays and Tuesdays. This extension of time will provide an additional 12 members with five-minute speaking opportunities each week, bringing the total number of speaking opportunities on the adjournment debate to 36.

The matters of public importance debate will be extended to one hour and 30 minutes, although that time does not all have to be filled. The government and the opposition have agreed that we will provide three speakers each on MPI debates. This change allows for members of the cross benches, should they wish to participate in MPI debates, to participate without restriction because the change in the standing orders provides 1½ hours. To ensure the MPI debate has greater prominence, it will now immediately follow question time.

Overall, these changes provide an additional four hours and 45 minutes in the House and three hours and 25 minutes in Main Committee dedicated solely to providing private members with speaking opportunities outside of government business time.

The second main area of reform is around question time. Question time is the public face of the parliament and is often the Australian community’s only perception of the workings of parliament. The adversarial nature of question time has thereby contributed to a perception that parliament is purely combative. The government is committed to ensuring that question time portrays a more balanced view of the workings of the parliament. These reforms will limit questions to 45 seconds, standing order 100(f), and answers to four minutes, standing order 104(c). A digital clock will be paused during points of order. Also standing order 104(b) will be amended so that a point of order on relevance can be taken only once with respect to each answer. Part (c) will also be amended to reflect the agreement that an answer must be directly relevant to the question. I also note that the government is committed to question time concluding no later than 3.30 pm. In the normal course of events, there will be around 20 questions each day over time.

The third main area of reform is around the committee system. The government is committed to ensuring the committee system is more effective, efficient and better resourced. The number of general purpose House standing committees will be reduced to nine. Membership will be reduced to seven in most cases and be reflective of the make-up of the House. The maximum number of supplementary members for each general purpose standing committee inquiry will be increased to four, with supplementary members having full participatory rights other than voting rights.

I mentioned earlier that there will be an external review of staffing levels within the Department of the House of Representatives committee office. The need for such a review was also recently recommended by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Procedure and will determine the nature and level of secretariat support necessary for the ongoing inquiry work of committees to ensure that the system is supported by an adequate number of qualified staff.

These amendments also allow the chairpersons of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts and Audit and the Standing Committee on Regional Australia to be a non-government or non-aligned member. Standing order 39 will be amended to provide committee chairs with the opportunity to make short statements during private members’ business time informing the House of inquiries being undertaken by the committee.

The government is also committed to improving response times to committee reports. A resolution of continuing effect is a part of this package of reforms to ensure that within six months of a House or joint committee report being presented in the House a government response will be tabled. If no such response has been received within six months, a statement signed by the relevant minister must be tabled stating the reasons why the response could not be prepared in time. The minister, or minister representing the minister, must also make themselves available to appear before the relevant committee at the next reasonable opportunity to answer questions on that statement.

Finally, I highlight one of the reforms in this package that is not about the technical workings of the House but about ensuring the parliament is more respectful to the traditional owners of the land on which it meets. The election of the government in November 2007 and the subsequent opening of the 42nd Parliament in February 2008 for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth saw a traditional ‘Welcome to Country’ and smoking ceremony performed by Indigenous elders for the opening of the federal parliament.

The government apologised to the stolen generations. On 23 June 2010 the government introduced a historic reform with amendments to the standing orders to ensure the formalisation of the role and place of a traditional ‘Welcome to Country’ in the opening of a new parliament. We did that yesterday in the parliamentary forecourt.

If this package of reforms passes the House, tomorrow will bring another historic event. The day’s proceedings will commence with the Speaker making an acknowledgment of country. Standing order 38 will be amended to include that acknowledgement, which will occur prior to prayers.

I commend the motion to the House. I support these important reforms and thank the members who have participated in the process, particularly once again the member for Lyne for showing leadership on these issues.