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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 12750


Mr PYNE (SturtManager of Opposition Business) (10:41): On indulgence, this development in the House this morning is quite unprecedented and I think it requires urgent clarification. I agree with the member for Lyne in that regard. My understanding is that the report from the Selection Committee which recommended that the bill be referred to a House committee for debate and investigation was handed to the chair before the second reading of the bill began. Why is that significant? It is significant because, once the second reading of a bill begins, the bill can go through all stages of the legislative process regardless of the report from the committee. So the government either deliberately or unwittingly ensured that the Selection Committee report was not tabled in the House.

I understand the member for Lyne was in the chair at the time and I am sure he was unaware of the machinations. Because that report was not tabled in a reasonable time, the bill was called on for its second reading. As a consequence—and I am sure the Chief Government Whip knows this—the Selection Committee's referral to the House committee is now a dead duck. It does not matter what that committee finds; the bill can now go through all the stages of the legislative process. This is an example of the chaos currently gripping the government's management of the parliament. We are getting bills the night before we are expected to pass them in the House of Representatives. It is a matter I am deeply concerned about.

With respect to this matter, I am very concerned that the parliament has been diddled, has been tricked, and that the proper processes of the parliament for bringing on the second reading of a bill opposed by the opposition have not been followed. This is not just any uncontroversial bill. Sometimes the Leader of the House and I agree for debates to occur, either in this place or in the Federation Chamber, on uncontroversial legislation. We did so yesterday, for example, with the debates that took place between 11 am and 2 pm. This is not uncontroversial legislation. The opposition is opposing this bill. As a consequence, there needs to be an immediate investigation into the events of this morning and the Speaker needs to consider whether what has been done this morning should be undone by the parliament so that a proper referral to the relevant House committee can occur—as the Selection Committee decided. That report can then be given—

Mr Jenkins: Mr Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: can I suggest that the Manager of Opposition Business has had his indulgence, and I am starting to cut up rough as a chairman of a parliamentary committee. Every time I try to make my report, there is some chaos going on here. I just ask that standing order 271 apply.

Mr Secker: There isn't one.

Mr Jenkins: There is not one, but it is common sense, alright? Now could I try to get the call again.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: In relation to this matter, the question is one that should be taken up with the Selection Committee. I am proposing to move on to the next item of business.

Mr PYNE: The point, Mr Deputy Speaker, is that this is not just a routine matter that can be brushed aside and that we can be told to take up with the Selection Committee at some unidentified time when they may meet. If you do not indicate that the Speaker will be asked to investigate it and potentially undo what has been done today in what I regard as a fastie to the parliament and the opposition then I will move—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member for Scullin on a point of order. The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat.

Mr PYNE: I would have thought you wanted to get on with the business of the day.

Mr Jenkins: I am trying to. I have only been an observer. I think that the discussion puts it back in the hands of the Speaker, and that is now Speaker Burke.

Mr PYNE: He's not indicating that, Harry.

Mr Jenkins: Yes, but we are helping him. I think that there is nothing in what the Deputy Speaker said, and there is nothing that the committee can do. Everybody knows now that the only person that could intervene, if there is any intervention, is the Speaker, and I am sure that she is fully aware of what is going on.

Mr PYNE: I am just seeking a commitment from him.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you for your assistance. I will now refer this matter to the Speaker for her adjudication, and I will now move on to the next item of business.

Mr Randall: On a point of order, can I clarify something with you, Mr Deputy Speaker?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Certainly.

Mr Randall: The next item of business that you have proposed is government business order of the day No. 2, and I see the member for Scullin wants to make a report. So can we have some adjudication on that? His report to the parliament was put back. Can we get an idea of what the actual business of the House will be?

Mr Martin Ferguson: Mr Deputy Speaker, with respect to the issue raised by the opposition member, I think that to be fair there was an understanding with the member for Cook that, following consideration of item No. 1 on the Notice Paper, he was called in from alternative responsibilities to make his contribution. We would then seek to attend to the reports from committees.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: In that case we will move on to the appropriations bills and then go back to reports.