Page 595 - Week 02 - Thursday, 14 February 2013

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A reminder that at the last sitting standing orders were amended to require that amendments to bills be circulated 24 hours prior to the debate of the Bill. A signed original of the amendments and any supplementary explanatory statement should be provided to the Clerk’s office by 12 noon the preceding day ….

They will then be scanned and emailed to Members.

So first thing Monday morning we were advised from the Office of the Legislative Assembly, of which the Speaker is the ultimate authority, that we had to have our amendments in by midday. I submitted my amendments by 11.30 am. A deliberate phone call was made to Mr Coe’s office in light of the fact that the amendments were coming late and also to detail them and to ask whether there were any questions or concerns with them.

What I am unsure about is why the Speaker, this email having been circulated to all members, then came into the chamber and gave a different ruling. That is perhaps something that will intrigue a few members in this place, because it is unhelpful to be changing the rules after the fact. I think this highlights the fact that the amendments to standing orders that Mr Corbell has foreshadowed on the notice paper will be quite important in ensuring that there is absolute clarity and that it is not left to the Speaker to be changing the rules after the fact.

I commend my amendments to the Assembly.

MR COE (Ginninderra) (12.02): The opposition will be supporting these amendments. On the issue of moving amendments and seeking 24 hours notice, contrary to what Minister Rattenbury just said, I do not agree with his slur on the Speaker that she is changing the rules. In actual fact, this is the first sitting week since those rules came into effect. I think it is quite reasonable that these rules develop. I said at the time in November that I think these rules are unworkable. I also said that when they are unworkable and when the government presents amendments with less than 24 hours notice we will not be readily granting leave. That is a position I stand by. In fact, in that same debate Mr Rattenbury supported that. He said it is good governance to go more than 24 hours, and that is why the standing orders have been changed.

I will quote what I said at the time and what Mr Rattenbury said. I said:

The Canberra Liberals will not be supporting new standing order 178A, which mandates that amendments shall be delivered to the Clerk’s office for circulation 24 hours prior to the sitting day on which amendments are proposed to be moved. We do not think this is reasonable and we do not think it is possible. I think we have all seen in this place many occasions where amendments are brought on closer than 24 hours to the discussion of the relevant issue. However, that is for good reason. In effect, rather than having debates on this chamber floor, the government want to have debates, they want to have discussions, deals done in the back room rather than in the transparency of this place.

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