Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (2 May) . . Page.. 1323 ..

MR HIRD (continuing):

the minority government arrangements, an irresponsible person sitting in the chair may well take advantage of the crossbenchers or opposition and remove a member for an hour, so the idea of a member not being disenfranchised when a division is called and being able to come back into the chamber to vote is warranted.

I believe most sincerely that the standing orders are there as a guide. They are the rules under which this place operates. However, I think the standing orders introduced at the time of the first Assembly in 1989 have evolved as successive parliaments came into being, and this is an opportunity for us to introduce this system for trial during the remaining term of this Assembly. At the discretion of the presiding officer, members could have the opportunity to cool off.

As to the other part of the report dealing with rotation when a vote is called, this place adopted the procedures of the House of Representatives standing committee and was set up under the Westminster system. Under the Westminster system the tradition relating to calling the roll goes back many hundreds of years. We are a young parliament but I believe that our traditions should be guarded and treasured. The predecessor to this place, the advisory body, had similar arrangements on divisions, and I believe they should be retained as a part of the history of this place.

There is no real reason for a change, according to my understanding, except that one member has indicated that the crossbenchers might not know where they stand on a division. Well, Mr Speaker, I think that is pretty flimsy. I have seen members who have been doing business outside this chamber walk in when a division has been called, and they need to get some direction, not only from the crossbenchers, but also from the opposition and the government. That is not to say, sir, that they are not aware of their responsibilities, but they need to know the state of play or where the debate is at when the division is called. That does not occur only in this chamber, but also in other parliaments.

I urge members to take note of recommendation 1 and to give the Speaker the power to give a member the opportunity to cool off by means of the sin-bin, as they call it. I also ask members not to support rotation of the call of the house when divisions take place.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (10.52): I would like to make a brief comment on this report. Obviously I have not read it in full yet, but we probably will not get back to this debate so I thought I should make a comment now. I will only comment on the first two recommendations about the discretionary power to remove a member of the house.

As members know, this report resulted from an incident earlier this year when the Speaker's authority was not supported by the house. The fact that the Assembly committee has decided not to support this particular option may reflect the views of the committee but it leaves unresolved the question of what to do to resolve that issue of the Speaker's authority. I view that incident with utmost seriousness and I think the motion that was moved on the subsequent day or during the subsequent sitting to affirm confidence in the Speaker did not, by any stretch of the imagination, resolve the problem which the failure of that earlier motion had given rise to.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .