Thursday, 28 October 2010
Questions to the Speaker
I refer you, Mr Speaker, to order of the day No. 1 today, which was my private member’s motion in relation to Australia’s Future Tax System Review. I refer you to an interview on the AM program between the member for Lyne and the interviewer, Alexandra Kirk, where the member for Lyne says:
In regards to Henry, we had a meeting last night and that is the cross-benchers with the Treasury secretary and Government officials.
There is legal advice now that has been given to the Treasurer from the Australian Government solicitor that indicates there are some legal issues in regards to the wordings of that motion,
I refer you to the legal advice provided to Dr Henry which states:
In our view clause 2 is arguably beyond power. It could be interpreted as within power and clauses 3 and 4 are beyond power.
Given that the clerks agree with us that the motion was actually in order, I ask you to investigate this matter and to determine whether in fact an individual piece of legal advice in relation to this motion is correct or whether in fact parts of the motion were out of order, and whether it is inappropriate for this House to pass motions and to have the Secretary of the Department of Treasury seek legal advice and determine that the House is acting ultra vires.
Order! The Leader of the House will resume his seat. First of all, I remind members that at this point in time it is my practice only to take questions on administrative matters but, on this occasion, because there is no other way that this could be raised procedurally with me, I will attempt to answer, if not directly then as close to directly as possible, the points raised by the member for North Sydney. He has referred me to certain things, one of which he did give me a copy of—which had been passed to him—which was the copy of a letter from the Australian Government Solicitor, I think, to the Secretary of the Treasury. It is true, as the Leader of the House indicates, that this is a matter that has been decided by the House, so any of the comments that I make do not go specifically to that decision as it is a matter that has been decided. I will just place some comments on the record about the way in which this motion was handled procedurally in the run-up to the vote by the House.
Firstly, as I understand it, the notice was accepted in accordance with the standing orders. Secondly, it was considered by the Selection Committee and given priority by it, and then eventually given time in government business for the vote. The final comment that I would make is that I believe members would feel that agreement by the House to a procedurally valid motion would be seen as a serious expression of the views of the House.