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Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Page: 9

Mr ALBANESE (Leader of the House) (11:44 AM) —Mr Speaker, I welcome your re-election as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It is indeed a great honour for you to be reappointed unanimously to this role, as it is a great honour for each and every member to sit in this House of Representatives. I join with you in congratulating all those new members, wherever they sit in the chamber, who have been elected for the first time to this parliament. It is indeed an incredible honour and a privilege which brings with it great responsibility. I particularly want to single out the member for Hasluck as the first Indigenous member of the House of Representatives and also the member for Chifley as the first person of Islamic faith to be elected to this parliament. I thought it was particularly noteworthy when Michael Danby, the member for Melbourne Ports, and the member for Chifley had their swearing-in at the same time at this dispatch box. It is important that this parliament continue to reflect the Australian people in its composition. In doing so we have got a parliament that does reflect more so the Australian public.

I welcome the fact that we do have a more difficult parliament that will make my job more difficult from time to time. It brings with it responsibilities for you, Mr Speaker, but also for each of the 150 members who have been elected to this House. You will preside over a new set of standing orders when they are adopted by the House tomorrow. That set of standing orders provides reforms which will allow for greater participation of all 150 members of this House. It will provide for greater accountability in question time of the executive. It will provide for greater opportunity for discussion of interest to individual members’ electorates. That was something that was embraced by us when we came to government in 2007 with the changes that we made. At that time it did not have support of the whole of the parliament. It is to be hoped that tomorrow the reforms that will be put through do have the support of the entire membership of the House of Representatives. The member for Lyne deserves special thanks from all members of this House in showing the leadership that he showed.

Mr Speaker, the fact is that parliamentary reform was something that you advocated from the chair on many occasions in the last parliament. The fact is that majority governments, whether they be Labor or coalition, have been reluctant to support those reforms and therefore give away the advantage that governments have on the floor of this chamber. The new composition given to us by the Australian people on 21 August has ensured that those reforms will take place. But without goodwill, without cooperation and without the spirit as well as the letter of the reforms, it is just a bit of paper. I pledge to work with you, Mr Speaker, as the Leader of the House cooperatively with the Manager of Opposition Business and with crossbench members to ensure that the spirit of the reforms is implemented and that you are in a position to be able to drive those reforms in your high office to which you have been deservingly reappointed here today.