Thursday, 24 June 2021
Ministerial Suitability Commission of Inquiry Bill 2021
At this point, Senator Waters, I am not going to put that question to the Senate. Pursuant to my ruling the other day with respect to standing order 86(1), this matter has been considered by the Senate twice in the last week in two separate circumstances—one upon its introduction. I ruled the other day that, following its introduction, it was to be published, which gave senators the opportunity to see the bill. My ruling was that was a different circumstance. This is the same motion as appeared the other day, where the first reading was denied by the Senate, and I believe that is covered by standing order 86(1), which I'm happy to read out again if necessary but I'm conscious we are limited for time.
Thanks, Mr President. Pursuant to contingent notice, I move:
That so much of the standing orders, in particular standing order 86(1), be suspended as would prevent the motion—namely, the first reading of this bill—from being moved immediately and determined without amendment or debate.
That motion is entirely within order. I will put the motion moved by Senator Waters because that would suspend standing order 86(1); and, therefore, the ruling would no longer be relevant. Standing order 86(1) is the standing order that you can't put the same question. It says:
A question shall not be proposed if it is the same in substance as any question which has been determined during the same session, unless the order, resolution, or vote on such question was determined more than 6 months previously or has been rescinded.
So I think my ruling is quite clear. Senator Waters is taking the appropriate response, which is to move to suspend that standing order to allow reconsideration of the bill.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
Mr President, this is a difficult one for us in the sense that we acknowledge and support your ruling on the matter but we have voted consistently with the Greens to allow for this legislation to be introduced. That doesn't indicate our position on the bill but we believe, Senator Waters, that you do have the right to introduce legislation and we have supported you throughout. But in light of the fact that you have made a ruling, Mr President, it is important for us to indicate our support for your ruling, acknowledging that our preference would have been that Senator Waters would and should have been allowed to introduce her legislation in accordance with the convention of this place several times this week.
I appreciate the expression of support. I should clarify. I wouldn't consider this to be a dissent from my ruling at all. This is not a matter of supporting my ruling or otherwise; this is the appropriate mechanism to suspend the standing order upon which I am basing my ruling. So this is not the same as moving a dissent in the chair's ruling at all. It's merely saying this rule shouldn't apply for this matter, and that is entirely appropriate for consideration by the Senate. But it is dealt with without debate under the provisions we have adopted. So I appreciate the support but I wouldn't take it as a dissent from my ruling, if this motion was supported.
Mr President, I would like some clarification. This has been raised a few times in the chamber now. You have made a ruling on it, under what it states in the standing orders. Is this going to happen every time? In the next sitting of parliament, are we going to have the same pieces of legislation get up? Is it going to be the same again—that we are voting on standing orders, overruling what is in 86? Is this going to come on every time, every day in this chamber?
That is an interesting question. There have been previous rulings from the chair, both from myself and my predecessor, that repeated attempts to suspend standing orders are out of the order. We have dealt with that on Thursdays, when we have been dealing with lots of legislation at once. This is not a repeated attempt; this is the first attempt to suspend the standing order that prevents the Senate considering this discussion. That's why it's not a dissent from my ruling, and I wouldn't view it as such. The Senate is always capable of suspending its own standing orders to deal with a matter it considers should be dealt with separately. However, if the Senate did vote to not suspend standing orders here, repeated attempts—and I wouldn't say it would only be a second attempt when we resume in August—would be out of order if, every day, there was an attempt to suspend standing orders to deal with the first reading of this bill. But it does need to be repeated attempts. My recollection is that, after two or three attempts, the Senate or the chair has determined that there have been multiple attempts to suspend standing orders to deal with the matter that way and we will not entertain any further measures. I hope that answers your question, Senator Hanson.
I think Senator Waters did say 'contingent notice'. Was it in your name, Senator Waters?
Senator Waters interjecting—
It is a contingent notice, which means it requires a majority of the Senate, not an absolute majority of the Senate. The question is that the motion moved by Senator Waters to suspend standing orders be agreed to.