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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31486

Mr PRICE (11:42 AM) —I rise to support the motion moved by the Leader of the House. As a member of the Procedure Committee, may I say that it is good to see that the chairperson of the committee, the honourable member for McPherson, is in the House, as well as Claressa Surtees, who did all the hard yards in preparing the original draft. I would also like to acknowledge the work of other committee members: particularly on my side, please forgive me if I mention the honourable member for Batman, who devoted considerable time to the committee; and the member for Calwell, who, although a new member of the House, in terms of these standing orders made contributions that indicated she punched well and truly beyond her weight.

As the Leader of the House has said, a lot of obsolete and arcane terms have been removed from the standing orders and the language has been modernised. For all honourable members, there has been a real attempt to make sure that you can actually find an appropriate standing order by looking at the index without having to have a PhD on standing orders. So it will be a lot more user friendly, not only for all honourable members but perhaps even for members of the public if they are of a mind to read such a document.

I need to thank the Leader of the House, because procedure committees in 1903, 1905, 1937, 1943 and 1949 presented revised drafts which were never implemented; so, although it has taken 40 years to resize these standing orders, it is good that in the 41st parliament we will be having a fresh or a more appropriate set of standing orders.

I say for my own part that I certainly believe some of the standing orders need contemporary revision to restore some fairness into the operations of the House—I call to mind some relating to questions and answers—but this was beyond the remit of the Procedure Committee at the time. Hopefully, there may be a future opportunity to look at the standing orders and see whether or not some standing orders need to be changed or added to, to facilitate the procedures.

I also acknowledge that we have the Manager of Opposition Business present, who has always been supportive of the work of the Procedure Committee and has been able to find time to participate in round conferences in order that we were able to ascertain her views on those occasions. The leader has also done so quite generously. Last but not least, and I do not want to push my luck on matters in relation to the Leader of the House, I wonder whether he might be able to indicate when government responses might be made on arrangements for second reading speeches, which is something that seemed to attract a degree of unanimous support; perhaps also on the report House estimates: consideration of the annual estimates by the House of Representatives, which would improve the working of the budget session. That would not only help members but would also be more efficient in terms of the government dealing with the budget. I commend these significant changes. I hope that members of the 41st parliament will find using the standing orders and trying to find the standing orders much easier tasks than they have been in the past.