House debates

Monday, 18 April 2016


Road Safety Remuneration Repeal Bill 2016, Road Safety Remuneration Amendment (Protecting Owner Drivers) Bill 2016; Third Reading

6:55 pm

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Finance) Share this | Hansard source

Point of order, Mr Speaker. There has been a breach of the counting rules that have been carried by this House by the government whips. And this is a serious point of order, because the whips have put you in this position, Mr Speaker, and you have simply reported to the House what they have given you, but the numbers you have reported in terms of how many people have voted on the government side are not signed off on or agreed to in any way by the opposition whips. They are in direct contradiction to the rules that have been put in place by the Leader of the House.

We did not like those rules when they were brought in, but the rules are: unless someone leaves their chair in an orderly way—they cannot do it in a disorderly way, which would put an obligation on you to consider naming them or removing them from the House—during the period when the doors are open, they must come up and report to the whips. We know that only happened with the member for Kennedy, and yet the count has changed by three. That is not possible as an outcome under the rules we have.

Standing order 129 has been changed in this term of parliament. Standing order 129 now says:

(c) Upon the doors being locked, the Speaker shall:

     (i) state the question to the House;

     (ii) direct the Members voting ‘Aye’ to move to the right side of the Chair, and the Members voting ‘No’ to move to the left; and

     (iii) appoint tellers for each side.

(d) No Member may move from his or her place from the commencement of the count until the result of that division is announced.

Unfortunately crossbench members, told to do so by the government whip, were put in an impossible position as well, where all that had to happen was that your ruling be followed. As a result of your ruling being ignored by the government whips, you have now been put in a situation where the count you have reported is in direct contradiction to the standing orders. I ask you, Mr Speaker, to confirm what I have described as having happened and, if so, to ask the government whips to adjust the count.

We have had occasions under this new rule where some people on the government side have left the room altogether, but when it is a one-minute division they still get counted as though they were still here. That is not a particularly democratic procedure. But it is how the House has voted to work and how it therefore operates. What just happened there was in direct contradiction to the standing orders that we have. I simply ask that you ask the whips to advise you in accordance with the standing orders, because otherwise they have put you in an impossible situation under standing orders 129, 132 and 131(b)(i).


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