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Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Page: 2337

The SPEAKER (16:52): (In division) The Leader of the House on a point of order?

Mr Porter: I think it is a question of timing as to whether or not the member for Newcastle was on which side at the time the doors closed.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business on the point of order?

Mr Burke: It was very clear, Mr Speaker. If the Leader of the House is right, then he was standing up during a division, and he's out as well. So I think we're either sensible about this or say it's gone.

The SPEAKER: On the latter point, that's not quite right, okay? The issue at hand—and I do have a problem with this, and I regret it, but I've got to deal with it—is that there have been occasions where the Manager of Opposition Business has argued to me directly that a government member was on the wrong side when I closed the doors. Regretfully, I have to say to him that because of that I researched the matter, and the critical point is not the closing of the doors. It's the appointment of the tellers, which I had done, and the member for Newcastle was on the government side. This is something that she has to deal with. I will hear from the Manager of Opposition Business.

Mr Burke: I am not disputing that that happened after you'd said that. What I'm saying is that the Leader of the House also left his seat after that moment. I am completely in favour of consistency across both decisions.

The SPEAKER: The problem is that it's not consistent with your earlier points to me; it's really not. Once I've appointed the tellers—

Mr Burke: I'm sorry, Mr Speaker, I'm just saying it applies to both.

The SPEAKER: I don't believe it does. It's about what side you are on when I appoint the tellers. I am happy to hear a point of order on the matter from the Manager of Opposition Business.

Mr Burke: I'm making a separate point about the Leader of the House.

The SPEAKER: I know that; I can see that.

Mr Burke: Once you have appointed the tellers, there are two things that members may not do: one is to move from one side to the other; the other is to leave their seat. The member for Newcastle sought to change her vote—and I respect what you're saying about the decision you would make on that. The Leader of the House left his seat, which is also prohibited under standing orders.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House.

Mr Porter: I think that any record will show that I was still in contact with the seat—

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Sorry, I can't hear.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: I'm just going to make a couple of points that I think will avoid the House—

Mr Hunt interjecting

The SPEAKER: Minister for Health, your timing is appalling. It really is. You've got to be either quicker or slower. I don't mind which one.

Members know I'm practical when I can be. I say to the Manager of Opposition Business: I'm going to rule that I don't agree with what you're saying, but I'm going to be practical here. The rule about members moving after the tellers have been appointed can mean that a member has been recorded as voting other than in accordance with his or her wish, but members realising they've been sitting on the wrong side after the tellers have been appointed have been obliged to remain in their seats, on the side they were sitting. So what I'm going to do is admonish the member for Newcastle. Realise the importance of a one-minute division. But, in order not to detain the House, I do in all fairness have to point out that at no point was the member for Newcastle sitting on the government side. I've asked members to take their seats. That's my ruling on the matter, but I am going to point out the member for Newcastle was standing on the government side. I'll reflect on this matter, but I'm not prepared to create a new precedent right here, right now. But please don't anyone think that I won't in the future. That's a warning to everyone in the House.

Just adding very briefly to my ruling, I point out to members on both sides of the House that, whilst the member for Newcastle was standing on the government side, in these one-minute divisions when members are crossing there have been many instances on both sides where members have not crossed to the side they're going to sit down on by the time I've appointed the tellers. I'm just being practical about it, but the message for all members is: please cross and sit down; leave your discussions about whatever you want to discuss until after the division.