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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3271

Standing Orders

Mr BALDWIN (Paterson) (15:41): Mr Speaker, I refer to House of Representatives Standing and Sessional Orders and in particular to standing order 47, which is about the suspension of standing orders. I refer to actions taken under standing order 89, which is about motions that a member be no longer heard. I would ask you in your capacity as Speaker to examine any precedents in standing orders or indeed in reps practice that occur in the same way as ministerial responses to answers occur, for which the clock is stopped. I ask that because the situation occurred today in which the government was defeated on a motion that the member be no longer heard but the time had expired on the clock. To pre-empt that, others may refer to the fact that a quorum denies a member speaking time, but under standing order 55—which is about the calling of quorums—it is the duty of the government to hold a quorum in the House so as not to deny a member time to speak. So, Mr Speaker, I ask you to explore that. What we are seeing is slow counting reducing the amount of time available to a member to speak on a motion to suspend standing orders.

The SPEAKER (15:43): Firstly, the chair is not aware as to whether tellers are counting slowly or whether that reflects on the counting ability of the tellers. Secondly, the point made by the member for Paterson is well made. I suspect that the instance he has highlighted is not the first or the last time that that will occur while standing orders are as they currently are. I commend to him page 513 of House of Representatives Practice, which says:

The period of time allotted for a Member’s speech is calculated from the moment the Member is given the call (unless the call is disputed by a motion under standing order 65(c)) and includes time taken up by interruptions such as divisions …

Under our current rules, what happened this morning was entirely proper. It would be within the competence of the House to change the standing orders if the House were so disposed.