Page 4401 - Week 14 - Thursday, 28 November 2013
This amendment, the standing order change that Dr Bourke is moving and the government will support, is designed to allow the committees to report. They may report with three reports—areas where there is agreement, areas where government members have a report and areas where the Liberal Party members may have a report. That is what might actually happen. There may be two reports. In an ideal world there may be one report. But that is what this allows to happen. We have got annual reports before us; we have got the Select Committee on Regional Development due to report. We want those committees to report, and this amendment ensures that will happen.
Mr Smyth, this amendment has been on the notice paper for over two months. You, coming quite late to the party, have brought forward—
Mr Smyth: No; it has only just been brought on. It has been sitting there.
MS GALLAGHER: It has been on the notice paper and it has certainly been discussed. You have brought some amendments forward quite late in the piece that we are prepared to look at through admin and procedure. It may be that they are sensible amendments. We are very happy for those to go to admin and procedure, but in the meantime there is the particular issue with the committee system at the moment, which is that the approach that has been taken has been designed to make sure that there is no report and to cause maximum embarrassment to committee members, particularly government committee members. We do not think that needs to happen.
We are trying to keep this debate polite. I do not think there is any disagreement on the proposal that Dr Bourke has brought forward. Indeed, it is covered in some of your amendments, in which case it should be passed 17-nil. Then we can go and have a look at some more detail around admin and procedure. I think the tolerance of some members to how the committee system is operating at the moment has been there. It is time that we just get on with it and allow committees to report, even if they report three times.
MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (11.39): If there is game playing occurring, let me make it clear that it is from those on the other side. Those on the other side have decided to set up a committee system that is contrary to the principles of Latimer House, as advised by the Clerk and distributed. That provided me with advice, and I have distributed it to members, that this is a step away from the Latimer House principles.
That is what those members opposite in the Labor Party and the Greens have done. They want to stitch up the committee system so that it cannot report effectively. What Dr Bourke’s amendment is doing today is trying to lock that in stone and make sure that essentially the committee system is further diluted. Mr Smyth has rightly identified the problem with that, identified the fact that it goes against the House of Reps practice. It is saying: “Look, there are problems; let’s sort this out in admin and procedures. That is the right way forward.”
To suggest that this is some sort of Machiavellian way that we are trying to run committees is a nonsense. I invite members to read the dissenting report to the