House debates

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Questions without Notice

Morrison Government

2:56 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister. Will the Deputy Prime Minister negotiate a new agreement on policy with the Prime Minister, and will that be made public?

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The Leader of the House, on a point of order?

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, you ruled on this as recently as yesterday. This is a backdoor way of talking about the coalition agreement, which is not the subject of the Deputy Prime Minister's portfolio responsibilities. It's not within order to go to the detail of that, and the precedent is very clear in relation to these matters.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I'll hear from the Manager of Opposition Business, and once again I won't hear from anyone else behind him.

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for the Arts) Share this | | Hansard source

Thanks, Speaker. To the point of order, the question doesn't go to an agreement between the parties. It goes to whether there's an agreement being sought between the Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister, specifically about policy. If that's something that's being put in the coalition agreement then the Leader of the House is the first to announce that. But that's not what the question asks.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm just pondering the issue. I take the point from the Leader of the House. Certainly, I had ruled yesterday on the issue of coalition agreements. While I'm at it, I undertook, following question time, to examine the issue again. I can inform the Manager of Opposition Business, having reviewed all the examples that are cited, my ruling is consistent with that going back to Speaker Snedden's ruling in 1978. I won't detain the House with all the rulings since then, but I couldn't find one ruling that went the other way. I have a different problem with this question. I know the Leader of the House thinks it's a backdoor attempt to try to ask about the coalition agreement. The issue that's still at hand here is it doesn't go to the minister's ministerial responsibilities. That's the difficulty I have with it.

An opposition member interjecting

It doesn't, and that's been made very clear all the way through. All any minister can be asked about and is responsible to this House for is their ministerial responsibilities. That's my difficulty with it. For me to allow such a question, and I'm being as flexible as I can be, the only thing that would be relevant is his ministerial responsibilities, for which he's been sworn in today.

An honourable member: I couldn't agree more.

No, but whatever agreements are made or not made, the accountability is to their ministerial responsibilities in this House. I don't want to detain the House any further. I'm pretty good at it sometimes. But, really, I will just say: it's pretty clear what he's responsible for, and they're the ministerial responsibilities he was sworn in for this morning.