Monday, 10 February 2020
Parliamentary Office Holders
Members will recall that on Thursday I informed them of the impending resignation of the Deputy Speaker due to his elevation to the ministry. I inform the House that, as foreshadowed, the honourable member for Page has tendered his resignation as Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. We will now proceed to the election of a new Deputy Speaker. I will call for nominations. The member for Mallee.
That the honourable member for Nicholls, Mr Damian Drum, be elected Deputy Speaker.
I would be delighted to nominate my colleague Damian Drum for the role of Deputy Speaker. Damian has spent 18 years in politics and has been in federal politics since 2016. In state politics he was a minister. He held the role of whip twice here. Currently he's the Chair of the Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation. Damian is well respected across the parliament. He is fair and balanced, and I believe he would perform this role admirably.
I second the motion, and I reiterate some of the things that the member for Mallee said. Not only that, but the member for Nicholls has also been the Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister in this place. He's been on many joint standing committees as well as House of Representatives select committees. He's been the Nationals chief whip in the House of Representatives. He has also, in the state parliament, had a number of different roles. He was the Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Development. He was the Minister for Sport and Recreation and the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. He was a shadow minister for a number of different portfolios and the spokesman for numerous areas. He has vast parliamentary experience in leadership positions. I also note that the next thing I say may lose him votes, but I think we should at least acknowledge his leadership outside this place—that is, he was the AFL assistant coach for the Sydney Swans from 1994 to 1998, and he was the senior coach for the Fremantle Dockers. Do with that what you will.
More importantly, as a person who has been the Deputy Speaker quite recently, I do have some insight into the personal requirements and the other things that you need to do this role. There are colleagues in this place and there are friends. I admit and confess that I do regard this particular member as a friend of mine. He has the character and, I think, great history to do this role a great honour.
I nominate Mr Llew O'Brien, the member for Wide Bay. Up until today it has been the case that the government has had 76 members of the coalition on the floor. As of today, that's 75. While this position would normally go to a member of the same party as forms the cabinet, given the change in numbers today, I think it's appropriate that this position go to somebody who has taken a higher position of independence.
Mr Llew O'Brien is the member for Wide Bay and has been serving on the Standing Committee on Petitions. He's familiar with the procedures of the House and has taken a level of independence from the executive, which I think is appropriate for the role. I would draw your attention to standing order 14(a) in my nomination.
Are there any further nominations? I draw to the attention of the House the matter that the Manager of Opposition Business raised with respect to the election of Deputy Speaker and Second Deputy Speaker and my approach to it. The Manager of Opposition Business and I have been reading the same pages of the standing orders and practice since last Thursday, no doubt. In the case of the election of Speaker, members will recall after the nominations the person nominated is asked whether they accept the nomination. With respect to the election of the Deputy Speaker and Second Deputy Speaker, there is a difference, and it's standing order 14 on page 19 for anyone interested. It says:
A nominee does not have to be present at the election or inform the House whether he or she accepts nomination.
Clearly the intention of that standing order is not to nominate and elect people against their will, because that would be a farcical situation where, if a member was elected Deputy Speaker and they didn't want to perform the role, they'd simply resign to me in writing, which is the only way to resign, and we'd have a series of never ending elections. The purpose of that is to enable someone who can't be here to be able to be nominated, and obviously the intention is they've communicated to the mover and seconder that they wish to be nominated. This is certainly the case where the member who's been nominated—the member for Wide Bay—was here, and is not here at this point. Under the standing orders, what we will do in proceeding to a ballot is ring the bells for five minutes. I'm going to say right now on the record, and I'll say it again just before the ballot, I will take the member for Wide Bay's absence and any subsequent appearance to vote as acceptance. But, if the member for Wide Bay informs me prior to the conduct of the ballot that he doesn't wish to be nominated, then I will declare the member for Nicholls elected. When the member for Wide Bay appears after the bells have rung, I will put it to him that I am taking it that his absence from the chamber and his return to vote is an acceptance of the nomination. I'm going to take that but I will still ask him whether he accepts the nomination. It says:
(a) A nominee does not have to be present at the election or inform the House whether he or she accepts nomination. So the requirement on a nominee is that they do not have to inform the House. I don't see anywhere where it prevents me from asking that; I really don't. What those standing orders say, and they shouldn't be read separately, is, if someone can't be here, they can still be nominated and they don't have to inform the House prior to that that they're going to accept the nomination. It says 'The nominee does not have to'. Nowhere there does it say 'The Speaker can't inquire'. I will just check there are no further nominations? There's not. I had that contingency covered as well.
The time for nominations has expired. In accordance with standing order 14, the bells will be rung and a ballot will be taken.
The bells having been rung—
As I foreshadowed to the House, the member for Wide Bay was nominated whilst he was not present. The member for Nicholls was nominated first. The member for Nicholls has had an opportunity, if he doesn't wish to accept the nomination, to say so, and he has not done so. The member for Wide Bay, you were nominated whilst you weren't in the chamber. Reference was made to the difference in the election of the Deputy Speaker and Second Deputy Speaker compared with the election of the Speaker, where, in the case of the election of the Speaker, the candidate or candidates must be asked whether they accept the nomination. Standing order 14(a) states:
A nominee does not have to be present at the election or inform the House whether he or she accepts nomination.
The intention of that is that people who can't be in the House can still be nominated without having to communicate in advance that they wish to accept any nomination that might be forthcoming. I keep a careful note. The member for Wide Bay was here for most of question time but not the end. He obviously had to leave the chamber for some reason. Now he's back, I need to say to him that, if he does not wish to accept the nomination, he needs to indicate that to the House.
The member for Wide Bay has accepted the nomination. The member for Nicholls, as I said, has had an opportunity to not accept the nomination. We will now proceed to a ballot. There are a number of new members. It's very straightforward. There are only two nominees. You just write the name of the nominee you prefer.
Mr Albanese interjecting—
The Leader of the Opposition raised a valid point of order. Could I just, in addressing the House, point out another aspect in this. You won't notice the attendants giving me a ballot paper. I don't have a ballot. I'm not entitled to a vote, so I'm not abstaining or anything like that. If there is a tie, I have a casting ballot.
A ballot having been taken—
I'll read the result, and then I'll have to make a very short statement to the House. The result of the ballot is: Mr Drum, 67; Mr O'Brien, 75. I hereby declare Mr O'Brien elected. Would the member for Wide Bay like to briefly address the House?
It is a tremendous privilege to be in this place. Every election we put ourselves forward to our constituents to serve them in the most honest and best way we can. I'm privileged to be here. As a country policeman, I find it incredible that I can walk into this place and take part in this. It's an honour to serve the people of Wide Bay, and it will be an honour to serve this House as Deputy Speaker.
Honourable members: Hear, hear!
I thank the member for Wide Bay. Obviously, I'm not going to reach a definitive position on this now. There's another part of the standing orders that's very important in this regard. It says:
If a government Member is elected as Deputy Speaker, only a non-government Member may be elected as Second Deputy Speaker—
and that's been the case now. If a non-government member is elected Deputy Speaker, then a government member must be elected Second Deputy Speaker. The member for Wide Bay made some remarks about his position with respect to the government overnight. I haven't studied those in great detail, I have to say. But I do need to point out to the House that that requirement is there. I know the Leader of the House is ready to make a point of order. I'm always happy to hear from my friend, the Leader of the House, but I'll need to examine those statements. Was the member for Wide Bay seeking to—
I've clearly stated that I am still a member of the government. I do not sit in the Nationals' party room. I sit as a member of the LNP, which was what was on my ballot paper when I put myself before the people of Wide Bay. I still remain a loyal and faithful government member.
Can I congratulate the member for Wide Bay. With two government members to choose from, I'm pleased to see that government members received the full confidence of all members of the House. The member for Wide Bay brings his experience to this House as a policeman. I, more than most, have a deep understanding of what he brings to this House, as I do understand what the member for Nicholls brings to this House. There is no shortage of government members in this House to ensure that we continue to deliver on the promises we made to the Australian people. These government members will continue to ensure that a strong economy, a safe Australia and a government that will continue to meet the needs of the Australian people will be delivered on each and every day that this government majority serves in this House.
Opposition members interjecting—
No amount of marketing or spin can hide the humiliation for the government from that ballot. I congratulate the member for Wide Bay on receiving such strong support from his colleagues in the House of Representatives. I asked a question earlier today; indeed, it was the first question of question time, which went to the stability of the government. I think we've just seen the stability of the coalition on full view for everyone to see: government members running against each other for a position of Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. For the Prime Minister to stand up and to say that this was somehow a win—
I thank the Leader of the House, but an indulgence is just that. The Prime Minister made a number of comments, but it is primarily an indulgence. What I'm not going to allow is the indulgence to slip into the matter of public importance. That doesn't occur on Monday.
I do congratulate the member for Wide Bay on his election. The position of the Speaker and the speaker's panel is a very important one. I'm someone who is quite proud to call myself a parliamentarian. I think that the way that this parliament flows and conducts itself is very important, and the role, I must say, that you play, Mr Speaker, is critical in that. The support that you receive from the speaker's panel, including, of course, the person who has just been elected as your deputy and the second deputy speaker, is critical as well.
It is important that we're able to debate ideas in this place. It's important that we're able to do it in a civil way, because this is the institution of our democracy. Many people stand in front of tanks for the right to vote and the right to participate in their democratic system. This institution matters. Procedures matter. The orderly conduct of business in this place matters, so that the government has an opportunity to present its arguments for the proposals that it's putting through its cabinet processes, and so that the opposition has the opportunity to hold the government to account by being able to actually have debates and not be shut down in this place and to be able to participate in that debate of ideas.
I congratulate the member for Wide Bay. I look forward to him conducting himself in a fair way, as you do, Mr Speaker, and as the former Deputy Speaker, the member for Page, did, with dignity. I congratulate him on his elevation to the position of assistant minister as well. I wish the member for Wide Bay all the best.
I too congratulate the member for Wide Bay for his election. I know he'll do a good job. I also pay tribute to the member for Nicholls for putting his name forward. That's democracy. I know the member for Wide Bay will be supportive of you, Mr Speaker, and supportive of the member for McEwen as the second Deputy Speaker.
I also congratulate the member for Wide Bay on his election as Deputy Speaker. We'll be working very closely together, and that starts from now. Obviously, we'll have a chance to talk about things through the course of this afternoon. But, of course, you're a key member of the speaker's panel. You're in charge of the Federation Chamber, and, since time is short, can I inform you that you're on duty at 7.00 pm tonight.