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Thursday, 21 November 2013
Page: 1020


Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for the Environment) (12:43): If it assists the House, on indulgence, I would refer to page 420 of House of Representatives Practice. I think that that provides an important guide as to the interpretation here, not just of the standing orders but also of the Constitution. Page 420 says:

It is a long established and strictly observed rule which expresses a principle of the highest constitutional importance that no public charge can be incurred except on the initiative of the Executive Government.

On every reading what this set of amendments attempts to do is to bring forward a variation on a public charge and to change its scope—no doubt or debate.

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat for a moment. I call the Manager of Opposition Business.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, would you kindly table your ruling so that we can have a look at exactly what we have got left?

The SPEAKER: I have made the ruling and I have stated it.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: I have made the ruling. I see no reason why—

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Yes, you can have it. I can have a copy made subsequently and made available to you.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, the problem, as you would appreciate, is the debate on what we now have to consider needs to happen within the moment. It is some time since you first said it. We still do not have a copy of it, notwithstanding that the amendments were circulated this morning. I do not want to be in a situation where we have no choice but to move a further resolution.

The SPEAKER: Well, I would put it to the member that that is a proper proceeding of the House system, if the member wishes to do so. But I think this is a very important constitutional point which was made very ably by Attorney-General McClelland in the previous government. I believe the ruling that I have made, as a considered ruling, and one of importance, and upholding a previous ruling, should stand. It is quite open to the Manager of Opposition Business to take another action if he wishes to do so. I invite him to do so forthwith if he wishes to.