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Thursday, 27 May 2004
Page: 29400

Mr GRIFFIN (3:41 PM) —I am overcome by your compliment, Mr Speaker. My question relates to the selection of the MPI today. The normal practice is to take a question from the opposition, although I know you have the concession to do what you wish in that situation. However, given that over the last 18 months there have been some four unfair dismissal bills debated in this House, and on the last occasion some three months ago some 12 members spoke for nearly four hours, I am wondering why that choice was made, given the question of bank fees as faced by the Australian community. Nearly $23 million is being taken out per day in total fees—over $400 per household—and bank fees totalled some $3 billion in 2003.

The SPEAKER —Let me indicate to the member for Bruce that, if he were to take a look at page 562 of House of Representatives Practice, he would find that one of my predecessors said that the Speaker cannot be required to give reasons for choosing one matter ahead of another. However, I am quite prepared to say to the member for Bruce, and my staff can verify this, that both matters landed at a meeting I was attending on the second floor of the House. Neither side of the House nor any individual lobbied me on this matter. I would agree with the member for Bruce that this was a difficult choice, but it did seem quite reasonable—given that the vast number of MPIs had, rightly and properly, been submitted and accepted from the opposition—to allow one to go to the government.