House debates

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Statement by the Speaker

Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders

3:13 pm

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Before honourable members leave the chamber, there are a number of matters I'd like to raise. I won't keep the House too long. The first matter is in relation to the suspension motion that was moved today by the member for Indi. I'm going to make an explanation as to what's happened.

Over most of the last two years, the House has adopted different formulations of certain questions on motions as they are put to a vote. The different formulations have been adopted as a means of reducing movement across the chamber, thereby reducing risks associated with COVID-19. In relation to motions to suspend standing orders, because of the current formulation of the question, in the overwhelming majority of cases those questions are decided for the ayes—in favour of the question 'That the motion to suspend standing orders be disagreed to'.

Earlier today, the member for Indi moved a motion to suspend standing orders. Following debate on the suspension motion, the initial question was decided for the noes—that is, disagreeing to the question 'That the motion to suspend standing orders be disagreed to'. A second decision was needed on a differently formulated question, simply because a decision against a proposal to disagree to a motion is not the same as a decision in favour of a motion. The second question enabled a vote on whether the suspension motion should be agreed to, which is the question under standing order 47(c). That requires an absolute majority in order for it to be carried. If members thought this was unusual, they are correct, as there is usually no need for a second question because of the result of the initial question. I regret if members were concerned about having to change sides of the chamber to vote, given the COVID safety arrangements the House has been operating under. On the other hand, this one exception in almost two years highlights just how successful the arrangements have been.