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Tuesday, 7 February 2012
Page: 12

The SPEAKER (14:53): Honourable members will not be surprised to learn that during the summer adjournment I was asked a number of questions about my intentions as Speaker. I have had discussions with the Leader of the House, the Manager of Opposition Business, Independent members and other members. I am very grateful for support for proposals I have made to reduce the time limits in question time, to extend the opportunities for members to ask supplementary questions and to rename the Main Committee as the Federation Chamber of the House of Representatives. I understand that some proposals may come before the House in the near future with respect to time limits for question time and the renaming of the Main Committee. In the meantime I want to let members know of my intentions in four matters.

First, I intend to adopt the same practice as Mr Speaker Jenkins in respect of divisions. Should an occupant of the chair wish to vacate the chair when a division is called, he or she should send a message to this effect to me. In these circumstances, I would propose to take the chair.

If I am required to exercise the casting vote, it is my intention to follow the principles set out in House of Representatives Practice—that is, that the Speaker should always vote for further discussion; where no further discussion is possible, decisions should not be taken except by a majority; and a casting vote on an amendment should leave the bill in its existing form.

Naturally I wish to ensure that order is maintained in the chamber. In this regard, I seek the cooperation of all members. Without in any way being pessimistic, I confirm that it is not my intention to warn disorderly members before directing them to leave the chamber for one hour in accordance with standing order 94(a). While I would usually expect to warn a member prior to naming the member, this would not always be the case.

Finally, I remind members that standing order 103 limits the scope of questions that may be put to the Speaker at the conclusion of question time to matters of administration for which the Speaker is responsible.

I look forward to working with all members to ensure that the House fulfils what we all know are the reasonable expectations of the people of Australia. Copies of this statement are available on the table.