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Wednesday, 26 November 2014
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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The SPEAKER ( Hon. Bronwyn Bishop ) took the chair at 09:00, made an acknowledgement of country and read prayers.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The House commenced this morning without a minister or a member of the executive present. Has there been a change to the standing orders?

Opposition members interjecting

Mr Robb: That is not true. I was here. Out of respect to you, Madam Speaker, I did not walk down while you were speaking.

The SPEAKER: There is no change in the standing orders and, yes, there should be a government minister present. I do not think we can repeat the opening except to repeat that the arrangements are now met and we will declare the parliament open for today.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, I respect what the minister has said—that he arrived after the proceedings had started but was here during them. The significance of a member of the executive being present at all times, as you would appreciate, is quite fundamental. It would be appreciated if the appropriate communications could take place between you and the executive for the efficient running of the parliament. That rule is there for a very significant reason—one that advantages the parliament and, indeed, the government—and I would just ask that appropriate process be followed.

Mr Robb: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We do not need a sanctimonious lecture from someone who has created so much trouble in the running of this parliament through question time. I was here in the chamber five seconds after the start.

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. The fact of the matter is that the standing orders do in fact require certain things to occur. I have spoken about that already. The Manager of Opposition Business has made a request of me, which was a reasonable request to make in the circumstances. However, I do concede that some activity might be anticipated this morning by the attendance on the opposition side which is not normal at the opening of proceedings. It is very nice to have so many present. I can only say that I think we saw a bit of game playing this morning. Nonetheless, the rules are the rules.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: We will have silence, thank you! Yesterday was an absolute disgrace in terms of the behaviour in this place and we are not going to tolerate it again. The Leader of the Opposition has the call.