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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 140

Mr ALBANESE (Leader of the House) (12:38 PM) —I thank the member for Lyne and note his particular passion for restricting time limits, as reflected in the change in standing orders which all of us ministers are going to be bound by, come two o’clock!

I want to comment on the difference between the opposition amendment being carried and the opposition amendment being defeated. The opposition’s amendment is the same in spirit as the original motion. We had discussions which went along the lines of: ‘How do we ensure that there is not an automatic recommittal of votes, as there is in the Senate?’ In the Senate, if a senator misses a vote they stand up and say, ‘I missed a vote; it was for this reason,’ and there is an automatic recommittal. There was a discussion about ensuring that there would be an explanation given and a demonstration that the House accepted that explanation. The demonstration would have to be accepted by a majority vote of this House, which is why we put the provisions as we did.

If the standing orders as drafted are carried by this House unamended, there will still have to be two votes: the first vote on whether there should be a recommittal and the second vote on the substantive item that was before the House. If the amendment moved by the opposition is carried, it will not make a difference in effect; it will ensure that there is a longer procedural wrangle about ensuring that the majority will of the House is reflected.

Normally the votes in this House will not go something like 74 to 75; they will go something like 70 to 69—or who knows how—because people will have leave. Eventually, the opposition will get over the fact that they lost the election and will get serious about granting pairs, so that the sort of discussion and debate that there has been about whether the member for Sydney will have a pair after she gives birth will not happen. In reality, common sense will prevail and a pair will be granted. I recognise the fact that that will occur, just as today a pair has been granted for when the member for Hotham addresses the National Press Club. That is just common sense. But, if an absolute majority rather than a simple majority is required, people will simply put on the Notice Paper a recommittal of votes and then it will be allowed to occur without an absolute majority.

There are procedural ways of ensuring that the majority view of this House will be implemented. There are ways of making that difficult—which take longer—but there are not ways of subverting the will of this House. Our amendment ensures that the will of this House will be carried. I commend the amendments of the standing orders to the House. I regret the fact that the opposition have walked away from the pairing of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, but I commit the government to working through these changes in the spirit of cooperation which we saw in the lead-up to the re-formation of the Gillard government in the aftermath of the 21 August election.

The SPEAKER —The original question was that the motion be agreed to. To this, the honourable member for Sturt has moved as an amendment that proposed standing order 132(b) be omitted with a view to substituting alternative words. The question now is that the amendment be agreed to.

Question put.