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Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Page: 30

Mr ALBANESE (Leader of the House) (5:37 PM) —I rise to join with the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the National Party in congratulating the member for Fisher on his election as Deputy Speaker and the member for Maranoa on his election as Second Deputy Speaker. I of course know both these gentlemen as local members. I have particularly enjoyed travelling to the electorate of the member for Maranoa. Both of them have served the parliament well in the capacity of chair of the parliament. Indeed, during the last session the member for Fisher showed his ability to act as an independent Speaker when the opposition moved dissent to his ruling—an unusual circumstance, indeed, but one that I remembered at an appropriate time. The member for Maranoa has also served in the chair, both in this chamber and in the second chamber, and will of course be an outstanding representative. Together with you, Mr Speaker, they make a very good team indeed.

The Leader of the Opposition referred to parliamentary reform. I am a supporter of parliamentary reform and I believe that the agreement entered into freely by the Labor Party, the coalition and the Independents should have been adhered to. There is no constitutional impediment whatsoever to the pairing of the Speaker, and when this issue was raised the coalition said that they would abide by the advice of the Solicitor-General. I table the advice of the Solicitor-General, who happens to have the same view that the former Solicitor-General had under the Howard government, which is that pairing is by its nature not recognised in standing orders. It is an informal arrangement based upon a moral and political obligation. That is what Stephen Gageler recommended in his advice and that is certainly the case.

Tomorrow we will be moving to the debate on the package of reform measures as predicated by the better parliament document. I think there is very broad agreement across the board for that document. There may well be one or two items that are raised by members in the form of amendments but there is agreement moving forward. One thing that people might note is that no pairing arrangements are recognised in the standing orders now, nor will they be recognised tomorrow. They are a matter of honour within the parliament. The parliament has to function on a range of conventions, not just on the standing orders, and that is very much recognised by the House of Representatives Practice.

The Leader of the Opposition referred to the statement put out last night by the member for Fisher. Unlike the statement by the member for Fairfax, this one actually came from the member for Fisher and the member for Fisher has not repudiated the statement put out by the Leader of the Opposition’s office. Can I report to the House that indeed that is the position of the member for Fisher. There have been no undertakings given to anyone in this chamber, that I am aware of, other than that he will fulfil the responsibilities of Deputy Speaker in accordance with the obligations that such high office holds. I have no doubt that he will do that, as I have no doubt that the member for Maranoa will fulfil his obligations as well in terms of the obligations that you fulfilled, Mr Speaker, consistent with the parliamentary reform document, in your indication earlier today that you have withdrawn from Labor Party caucus processes. It was envisaged in the document on parliamentary reform that both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker would come from different political parties and that both of them would withdraw from caucus activities in their party room.

I congratulate the member for Fisher and I congratulate the member for Maranoa. I look forward to being a part of the implementation of parliamentary reform in this 43rd parliament.