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Tuesday, 10 November 2015
Page: 8151

Senator MARSHALL (VictoriaDeputy President of the Senate and Chair of Committees) (16:59): I present the Procedure Committee's third report of 2015.

Ordered that the report be printed.

Senator Marshall: I move:

That consideration of the report be made a Business of the Senate order of the day for the next day of sitting.

Question agreed.

Senator Marshall: by leave—I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

Senator MARSHALL: This report addresses two matters that have been considered recently by the Procedure Committee. The first matter is consideration of ministerial statements, while the second is a minor adjustment to standing orders sought by the Joint Committee on Publications.

Senators on the committee considered that the presentation of ministerial statements to both Houses was an important feature of parliamentary government. In relation to the presentation of ministerial statements, the committee endorsed the following practices:

Ministerial statements should continue to be included as a standard item on the Red for those occasions when there is a desire to debate a significant statement.

However, the practice of presenting routine ministerial statements with documents handed in at the commencement of sittings should continue, consistent with recent attempts to streamline presentation and consideration of documents.

Governments should be encouraged to present ministerial statements to both Houses unless the statement concerns an issue of relevance to one House only.

Governments should be encouraged to provide information about forthcoming ministerial statements in time for consideration by the Whips meeting (for consultation on whether a statement should be presented separately at the designated place on the Red).

Governments should be encouraged to notify Opposition spokespeople and cross-benchers in advance of particular ministerial statements.

The committee also endorsed the principle that senators should have a right to speak to ministerial statements, although it has resolved to consider further at a later date whether the oral presentation of a ministerial statement should continue to require leave. In the meantime, the committee has recommended the trial of a temporary order that would create a right for any senator, including a minister, to take note of a statement and speak to it for not more than 10 minutes.

The committee's second recommendation is for a minor change to standing order 22, at the request of the Joint Committee of Publications, to bring the standing order into line with contemporary practices for the publication of documents in both printed and digital formats.

I commend the report to the Senate and, if no other senator wishes to speak, seek leave to continue my remarks.

Leave granted. Debate adjourned.