Page 4403 - Week 14 - Thursday, 28 November 2013
go off for further consideration—that we would start the discussion today and we would come back to them next year. Subsequent to that, when I had a chance to further look at them and sought some further advice, it did seem that Dr Bourke’s proposal for standing order 248 would provide us with some interim measures that would allow us to get on with the business of the provision of annual report reports.
I had understood that that had been communicated and that the decision from Tuesday at admin and procedures had been communicated to Mr Smyth as well. I have discovered this morning that that is not the case. That is very unfortunate. One of the things that really struck both me and my former colleagues in the last term, since we came to this place, is how little people in this building talk to each other. We often found ourselves, certainly in the last term, to be some sort of intermediary. I do not think that does the place any service at all. When people actually sit down and talk to each other, we usually get a much clearer understanding of what is going on.
That said, the advice I have is that Dr Bourke’s proposal to amend standing order 248 is consistent with House of Reps practice. I believe that it will actually add some clarity to areas that have been problematic in recent times. On that basis, I am going to support Dr Bourke’s motion being voted on today, because my understanding of the standing orders is that that will provide some temporary clarity. And we will look further at Mr Smyth’s proposal. I have had some initial consideration of Mr Smyth’s proposal, and it is not clear to me how some elements would operate. I think that what Mr Smyth is seeking to do is potentially quite useful, but it probably does warrant some further discussion.
On that basis, I will be supporting Dr Bourke’s motion today. It is regrettable that that understanding was not clearer before we came here this morning—that the procedure agreed to on Tuesday had been amended. I find that a regrettable situation. Nonetheless, I will be proceeding today to support that one and I look forward to the discussion of Mr Smyth’s motion further at the administration and procedures committee.
MR WALL (Brindabella) (11.46): I would just like to put a couple of words on the record as to the function of the committees, from my perspective as a new member in this place. Coming in as a new member, it was explained to me that the function of the committees was as an opportunity for all members of this place that are non-executive to participate in and investigate issues of merit or interest and that it is done often in a non-partisan fashion where the best ideas and aspirations are put forward and collaborated on.
Sadly, however, we have seen that the committee structure is now such that having two members from one side of the chamber and two members from the opposite side naturally introduces a partisan element. That has been quite disappointing. It has been evident. Obviously there have been instances where we have been unable to get our points across in committees and times when members of the government backbenches have sought to prevent any changes to their points of view being made in the committee process.