Page 95 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 9 December 2008

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

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services), by leave: I think it is important to clarify the government’s view in relation to this matter. I know that this was communicated to your office, Madam Assistant Speaker, earlier today.

It has not been the usual practice in this place, under either majority or minority government, for ministers to provide advance copies of their statements to opposition or crossbench members. Indeed, it was not the practice under the previous Liberal minority government for that to occur. Indeed, it has not been the practice in this place, full stop, ever.

But the government is cognisant of the desire of members to have some understanding of what the statement is about and, to that end, Madam Assistant Speaker, as you would be aware, I, as manager of government business, provided advance notice of the topic of the statement during the government business meeting last week. I intend, wherever possible, to continue that practice so that members are familiar with the nature of the statement, if not its exact content. I think that is a reasonable course of action and, if we do wish to draw attention to the norms in other parliaments, I think we cannot pick and choose in that regard. There are many practices in this place which are never permitted in other parliaments. Nevertheless, they are the norm here.

I think the approach that the government is seeking to adopt is a reasonable one. We will endeavour to give notice and advice on the subject of the statement, but providing advance copies of the speeches, we think, is not appropriate. Of course, there is the opportunity for members to respond to these statements in the Assembly, either following the statement itself or at a later time.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella), by leave: Madam Assistant Speaker—

Mr Barr: This could go on forever.

MR SMYTH: Mr Barr says it could go on forever. Yes, it could. It is preposterous to say that nothing in this place will ever change because we never did it before. This parliament is 20 years old. In May next year we will celebrate our 20th anniversary. In many ways, the forms and practices of this place are still evolving, and you can see that quite easily in the fact that Mark McRae, the former Clerk, is in fact writing a House of Assembly practice. I look forward to seeing that.

I remind members that, where we do not have a practice that governs the way we behave in this place, we do refer to House of Representatives Practice. I would like to bring to the attention of members page 486 of House of Representatives Practice, which is entitled “Statements by leave”. I will just read two paragraphs:

A frequently used practice is to seek the leave of the House—that is, permission without objection from any Member present—to make a statement when there is no question before the House. This procedure is used, in the main, by Ministers to announce domestic and foreign policies and other actions or decisions of the Government. A period is provided in the order of business for ministerial

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