Page 4397 - Week 14 - Thursday, 28 November 2013
Dr Bourke: Point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker.
MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER: Would you resume your seat, Mr Smyth? Stop the clock, please. Point of order, Dr Bourke?
Dr Bourke: Mr Smyth is alleging that members have been undertaking theft and plagiarism. That is surely unparliamentary.
MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER: It is a reflection on the members of the committee.
MR SMYTH: I did not mention any committee members.
Ms Gallagher: You did.
Mr Corbell: You referred to “committee members”.
MR SMYTH: I did not—
MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER: You referred to committee members and you referred in one case to theft or—
MR SMYTH: I withdraw; I withdraw it. That is fine.
MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you.
MR SMYTH: But we have the circumstance where a member may take a draft report that that member might have got as the chair and suddenly turn it into their own report. It is interesting that there are some precedents from the Senate relating to a report in 1998 from the Joint Select Committee on Video Material. The work of the committee staff, especially the secretariat, was made much more difficult by the chairman’s draft becoming a minority report. This entailed a great amount of extra work to prepare a new majority report.
The reason I have said this in this way is that my view would be that when a report is given to the committee, the report belongs to the whole committee and it is up to the committee to do with it what they want. If somebody wants to dissent from the decision of a committee, they should present their own work written as their own work. It has caused problems in the past in the Senate. So that is why proposed standing order 250B states:
If the committee is unable to agree upon a report, the Chair of the committee must present a statement—
It is just a simple statement that basically says the committee is unable to come to a decision on a report. The statement is presented together with the minutes and transcripts of evidence.