Thursday, 4 August 2022
Questions without Notice
House of Representatives: Management
My question is to the Leader of the House. How is the government's management of the House in its first sitting fortnight delivering on Labor's vision for a better future, and how does that compare to previous parliaments?
Opposition members interjecting—
Order! I'm very keen to hear the answer, but the Manager of Opposition Business—
Opposition members interjecting—
Order! When the House comes to order, I'm trying to give the Manager of Opposition Business the call. When the House is silent, I will hear from him.
Mr Speaker, question time is for ministers to be asked about the activities of the current government. You've given a ruling on this. How can this question possibly be consistent with your ruling?
I thank the member for Lyons for asking an excellent question. It's fair to say that I like this parliament better—significantly better. One of the things that I'll say we've had, particularly if you look at the debate that happened this morning, is: how long is it in this parliament since we've had a situation where the crossbench move an amendment, the minister listens to the speech and the parliament then makes a decision based on the debate? For nine years the debate didn't even occur. For nine years the amendments weren't even allowed to be moved. And today what I saw in the parliament was a situation, finally, where different members of parliament—regardless of where they are in the chamber—brought forward their ideas, the debate mattered for the outcomes, and the parliament voted. I note there were no amendments from those opposite—no amendments from those opposite at all. As well as there being no amendments, even when they were voting 'no', there was not even any enthusiasm. It was not even as if they wanted to be here. But the procedures that have allowed us to be able to do this have changed what's possible in the parliament.
First of all, I'll pay credit. From the 35 new members, we have had 24 first speeches now, from members on this side, that side and the crossbench. It is good to have those first speeches so early in the new parliament. But what we have also achieved, against those opposite saying it would be the end of democracy, are new procedures which have allowed people to debate. For the last two nights, where previously the process would have been—
Honourable members interjecting—
Order. Resume your seat. Member for Wannon, that was not a point of order.
Member for Wannon: that was not a point of order, it was a question. That is not within the standing orders. And if those kinds of disruptions continue, action will be taken. The Leader of the House has the call.
The point of order might have been out of order, but it was really helpful because, in terms of the new procedures where speaking times have been dropped from 15 minutes to 10 minutes, I was about to refer to the member for Flynn. He said it was an absolutely appalling use of the guillotine that he wasn't allowed to talk for 15 minutes. He then sat down after eight minutes and four seconds with nothing more to say.
For the last two nights, member after member opposite has stood up and opened their speech by saying, 'It is outrageous that we are being silenced,' and they have continued to talk for 10 minutes about being silenced. And then they said the 10 pm cut-off is the same as a gag, that cutting it off at 10 pm means, 'We don't get to speak at all.' It's exactly the same as what they used to do, moving that the speaker be no further heard.
Well, the first time we used that procedure of the 10 pm cut-off, they ran out of speakers at 9.37 pm. Last night they ran out at 9.27 pm. The parliament's being used as it should be. (Time expired)