Tuesday, 5 December 2017
by leave—I move:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the following from occurring:
(1) private Members' business order of the day No. 33, the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017, being considered in government business time until disposed of by the House;
(2) the House sitting until 12 midnight tonight, notwithstanding the automatic adjournment time of the House, and being immediately adjourned by the Speaker at that time;
(3) any division called for after the conclusion of the Matter of Public Importance today to be deferred until 9.30 am on Wednesday, 6 December 2017; and
(4) during the period from the conclusion of the Matter of Public Importance until the adjournment of the House today, if any member draws the attention of the Speaker to the state of the House, the Speaker shall announce that he will count the House at 9.30 am tomorrow, if the Member then so desires.
Because of the number of speeches we have on this issue I won't speak for long. I simply say that the opposition support the resolution. We remain willing for whatever additional hours are required to make sure that we can get through the debate on this bill in a reasonable time. I'm very conscious that, if—
Mr Pyne interjecting—
You cut a week out of parliament, so let's not play that game. The Leader of the House, not you, Mr Speaker. You were simply following—
I think there was limited discretion that was available to the Speaker on that particular issue. I say, though, that, with the number of speakers who are on the list, I do believe we will need to do more than what is in this current resolution. I indicate to the government that the opposition is willing to work with any further additional hours. Anything that has an agreement that all speeches go for 10 minutes rather than 15—as long as it's all at 15, our members will use the time as well, but, if there's agreement to go to 10, we're very happy to facilitate that. I am concerned that, if we let the debate go too long, we'll end up with other members who want to move amendments feeling frustrated with the time available. There is goodwill across the chamber, and we want to make sure, particularly on a conscience vote issue, that no debate is gagged and everyone get the opportunity to make their speeches. In saying that, we support the resolution.
Question agreed to.
On the debate itself, if I could just make a couple of remarks, as seems timely now: obviously, on a question like this there are strong views, and the House recognises that, despite anyone's views, it's a historic proposition before the House. We've seen members wearing badges, which I think is on the right side of the line. I notice the member for Leichhardt's got a tie, which he wore yesterday, which is completely within the standing orders. That's fine. I just want to say to members my preference is that we don't keep extending props on the subject. We do have rules on props, and they're well known. I do need to point that out. At the conclusion of a long debate, it is reasonable that more tolerance will be shown by the chair. I just want to make that point. It's probably easier if I make the point that way. To date, it's been perfectly proper. I commend the member for Leichhardt and those who have spoken so far. We like to be able to compare ourselves with the other place favourably.