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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 4 Hansard (4 May) . . Page.. 1227..

MR SPEAKER: Could you repeat that?

Mr Smyth: Earlier, Mrs Dunne raised a point of order as to whether or not Mr Corbell's amendment No 1 was out of order in that it was inconsistent with standing order 225. In the debate, Mr Corbell said that, because of paragraph (5) of my motion, this could occur. My motion has not passed yet. Until it passes it cannot be applied. Therefore, the standing orders, as they stand, apply. Paragraph (5) of my motion authorises and allows paragraph (4).

Paragraph (4) does two things. Firstly, it allows the committee to send its report to the Speaker, whereas normally committees of this place respond to the house. Secondly, it allows the overriding of the interest of the public accounts committee, which is normally charged with the scrutiny of the accounts and the finances of the territory. Given that it has not passed, Mr Corbell's argument is flawed. We have checked with sources like Odgers and sought advice on this. I would like you to take into account what I have just said and now rule Mr Corbell's amendment out of order.

MR SPEAKER: I heard what you said, but there is another factor that I need to consider. The motion does not overturn, even if amended, standing order 225 because the committee will still elect a presiding member and a deputy presiding member, but they are being instructed by the Assembly to ensure that presiding member is a government member.

Mr Smyth: Except the charge of the committee is to elect its own presiding member. You cannot direct the committee to do something that the committee does not want to do or cannot be carried by voting in normal circumstances. I believe that Mr Corbell's amendment is inconsistent with the standing orders and should be ruled out of order.

Mr Corbell: On the point of order, Mr Speaker: it is well accepted in this place that the Assembly itself, by resolution, can determine how committees conduct their business. Mr Speaker, as you have rightly indicated, as long as the committee elects a chairperson and a deputy chairperson, then there is no contradiction of the standing orders. The Assembly is entirely within its power to assert who should chair a committee. The standing orders require that a chairperson and a deputy chairperson be elected; nothing more and nothing less than that. My amendment does not in any way conflict with the standing orders and is entirely consistent with the position, well accepted in this place, that the Assembly is a higher power than the committee when it comes to determining the business of a committee.

MR SPEAKER: I also take the view that it is entirely up to this Assembly whether it wants one of the standing orders to apply or not. At any time this Assembly can suspend the operation of a standing order.

Mr Seselja: The question is whether or not standing orders need to be suspended here. The wording of this amendment does not say that the chair is going to be elected by the committee. It just says the committee chair shall be a government member. It does not go to an election. In that case the standing orders still apply. The Assembly can do whatever it likes provided it suspends the standing orders in the proper way. I do not think that has been done.

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