House debates

Monday, 5 September 2022


Sessional Orders

4:19 pm

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) Share this | Hansard source

'That the question be put' votes—272 times under the former coalition government; 'That the member be no further heard'—382 times under the former coalition government. The Leader of the Opposition just referred to the mathematics, the numbers not being true. Could I just draw his attention to this. He said that the numbers of the opposition are five times those of the crossbench. There are 16 on the crossbench. If you multiply that by five, that means you're in government; it means you've got 80 members in the House. That's what they just said. There are 16 on the crossbench, and the proportionality that's reflected in the sessional order does presume we should get to 22 questions.

I would simply warn those considering this motion about one of the impacts that will definitely come from what the Manager of Opposition Business has moved. Effectively, if part of what the House just voted on was about having an incentive that we don't spend as much time on endless points of order, what this is saying is: push off the finish time, and then the opposition can keep behaving exactly as they have, with absolutely nothing to provide any extra layer of discipline. That's what they're suggesting.

I speak to the members of the crossbench here directly. In terms of the question 'How long does question time normally go for?' I refer to page 554 of Practice:

Since 2011, the first complete year of the 43rd Parliament, following the introduction of restrictions on duration of questions and answers, it has been about 70 minutes.

That's the normal length of time for question time. The Leader of the Opposition is right, though: it's right and proper that there be extensions, whenever possible, at the end when there have been significant indulgences at the start. That is something that should happen. But the 70-minute concept simply has the impact that you get 11 questions each side, because some questions are a bit shorter and some answers are a bit shorter. History has been that you get 11 questions each side if you don't stall the whole day with points of order.

Here's what changes as a result of what the opposition have put: either way, we get a situation where, if the opposition want to get all 11 questions, it's on them to raise only points of order that are genuine points of order. If we do the extension, if this motion is carried, then what we saw today and what we saw on the previous days on which this parliament has sat—where you get four points of order in the course of a single question, and it goes on and on and on—will be continued. I don't think that's consistent with the aspirations that people have for this parliament, and I'd urge people to vote against it.


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