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The Hung Parliament: procedural changes in the House of Representatives



On 5 August 2013 the 43rd Commonwealth Parliament—the first hung parliament since the early 1940s—was officially prorogued ahead of the federal election to be held on 7 September 2013. Whilst there has been considerable commentary on the performance of the Government, the Opposition, the parties and the cross-bench during the 43rd Parliament, there has been much less discussion about the nature of the hung parliament itself. However, the 43rd Parliament was characterised by a range of new arrangements to House of Representatives practice and procedure.

These new arrangements were the result of an agreement formulated in the aftermath of the 2010 federal election between the ALP, Independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor which, together with other agreements, gave the Labor Party the support it needed to form a minority government. A major component of the agreement with Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor was an annex, Agreement for a Better Parliament: Parliamentary Reform, which was negotiated by the ALP, the Coalition and the independents. The Agreement for a Better Parliament identified specific changes to House of Representatives practice and procedure, many of which were subsequently implemented through changes to the House of Representatives Standing Orders. This so-called ‘new paradigm’ of parliamentary conduct included changes to committees and committee activity, an increase in the volume of legislation passed, increased time for ‘cross-bench business’, and new arrangements for the role of the Speaker and the management of Question Time. A new paper by the Parliamentary Library presents a review of selected procedural changes in the 43rd Commonwealth Parliament, together with a range of statistics relating to the work of the House of Representatives. It updates and extends an earlier paper that examined the first year of the hung parliament.

*Authors: Politics and Public Administration Section