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Wednesday, 16 March 2005
Page: 118

The SPEAKER (5:50 PM) —in reply—In making some concluding remarks on the Parliamentary Service Amendment Bill 2005, I would firstly like to thank honourable members who have made very thoughtful contributions to the debate, in particular, the Chief Opposition Whip, the member for Chifley; the member for Lyons; the member for Scullin, who has put a lot of thought into it; and, of course, the Manager of Opposition Business in the House.

If the House should pass this bill today, it will complete the legislative reforms to the structure of the parliamentary departments, which have been in prospect for the last year. It will also provide for the office of Parliamentary Librarian, after a period of 15 years in which that position has not been permanently filled. The President and I, in consultation with the library committees, will move to ensure that arrangements are put in place for the recruitment of the Parliamentary Librarian.

Governments of both political persuasions have tried over many years, starting with an earlier attempt by former Prime Minister Andrew Fisher in 1910, to reform the structure of parliamentary administration. Current members and senators can be proud that they have contributed to this outcome. There are of course a number of administrative reforms still to take place, but the President and I are confident that these will be achieved because of the professionalism and goodwill of all the staff of the three departments which support the operation of this parliament.

Again I would like to thank all members who have contributed to this debate. I think a lot of very useful and constructive points have been made—some of which I will respond to, but others will be taken up with the various committees relevant to the points that were raised. The Manager of Opposition Business asked about the strengthening of the Library Committee. The library committees of both houses of parliament are meeting tomorrow, and I think that would be the appropriate place to raise the issue again, and I am sure it will be.

The other point that has been raised by several members is the resources available to the library. This will be a matter for an agreement between the new appointed Parliamentary Librarian and the Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services—and that agreement, I hasten to add, will be considered by the library committees and will have to be approved by the presiding officers. So that is certainly something that is going to be discussed further.

The member for Scullin also raised the question of the Security Management Board. Security management is a matter that the Joint House Committee is looking at repeatedly. The presiding officers seem to have a security matter on the agenda every week, and I suspect they will continue to have for some time. I can assure the honourable member for Scullin that we are very conscious of the points he has raised. We are continually looking at the whole question and we are trying to get the right balance. I think all honourable members are very proud that our parliament has always had very good access for the public. We are not keen to see that restricted, but we have to take advice from the experts on security matters. We are continually trying to balance that whole issue.

I again thank everyone who has been involved in reaching this point with the Parliamentary Service Amendment Bill 2005. I think this matter has been handled very constructively by members of government and opposition both in the other place and in here, and I believe that through this legislation we will achieve what members are hoping for, particularly with the library and with other related matters of this bill. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.