Monday, 5 September 2022
That all words in paragraph (a) of sessional order 65A be omitted and the following words substituted:
"(a) During Question Time, priority shall be given to a crossbench Member seeking the call on the fifth, thirteenth and seventeenth questions."
As I said in moving urgency, the intention of the sessional orders agreed at the beginning of the 47th Parliament was to provide the crossbench with three questions in question time. It has not worked. In five of the seven question times since the 47th Parliament began, the crossbench has only been able to ask two questions and not the agreed three.
There appears to have been the deliberate use of points of order to waste time to deny the crossbench the 21st question. For members of the crossbench, asking questions without notice is a key tool to hold government to account. Such tactical approaches to reducing the agreed number of questions is cynical and thwarts the agreement between the government, crossbench and, indeed, the opposition on questions. The agreement is not being treated with good faith by the opposition.
This amendment is designed to restore the original intention of the sessional order that would be in line with the numbers in the House—the government, opposition, Greens and crossbench. This may seem like a small numerical change, but, if we are to be truly representative, it'll make a big difference for the communities that this crossbench represent. All of us on this crossbench may wish for greater reform of question time, but this is a start. I commend this motion to the House.