Standing Committee on Procedure
From Hansard, 2 December 1996, page 7369
Mrs SULLIVAN (Moncrieff) (12.43 p.m.)On behalf of the Parliamentary
Standing Committee on Procedure, I present the committee's report entitled
Review of reports of previous Procedure Committees which have not
received a government response, together with the minutes of proceedings.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Mrs SULLIVANThe Procedure Committee has been established
for nearly 12 years. In that time it has presented 25 reports, not including
this one. Some of those reports have led to significant improvements in
the way the House does its businessfor example, the introduction
of a dedicated time each week for private members business and, more recently,
the institution of the Main Committee.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, a number of the committee's reports
have not received any response by the House or the government of the day.
Included in a schedule of parliamentary committee reports tabled by the
Speaker on 9 May this year to which the previous government had not responded
were 10 Procedure Committee reports which covered the period 1988 to 1995.
In order of their tabling in this House, they were:
The publication of tabled papers (1998)
Committee procedures for dealing with witnesses (1989)
The standing orders governing the conduct of committees of the House
Responses to petitions (1990)
A citizen's right of reply (1991)
Disclosure of in camera evidence (1991)
Seconding of private members' notices of motion (1992)
The standing orders governing disorder and strangers (1992)
Application of modern technology to committee proceedings
Procedures for the opening of parliament (1995).
When he responded on 27 June to the Speaker's schedule, the Leader of
the House (Mr Reith) requested that the new Procedure Committee review
the findings of those reports with due regard to contemporary circumstances
and in the light of changes that had been made since they were first presented.
So far this year the Procedure Committee has tabled three further reports:
The operation of standing order 143: questions to members other
than ministers (presented 16 September 1996), Bills Consideration
in detail: review of the operation of standing order 226 (presented
28 October 1996), and The conduct of divisions (presented
18 November 1996)consideration of which it gave precedence over
the request by the Leader of the House. However, it has always been the
committee's intention to take up his request before the end of this session.
The report I am tabling today constitutes the Procedure Committee's response
to the government's request.
The new Procedure Committee did not repeat the previous inquiries. It
examined each report's recommendations primarily for relevance. However,
in some cases the committee had reservations, and these are outlined in
today's report. The committee requests that the new government respond
to eight of the 10 reports, taking into account today's report's comments
or suggested modifications. Specifically, the committee endorses, without
qualification, the reports on The publication of tabled papers,
Responses to petitions, A citizen's right of reply,
Seconding of private members' notices of motion and the Application
of modern technology to committee proceedings. The committee generally
supports the reports on Disclosure of in camera evidence,
The standing orders governing disorder and strangers and
Procedures for the opening of Parliament, with some reservations
or minor changes recommended for these reports.
The recommendations of the two remaining reports (which deal with parliamentary
committees) have been largely superseded, and a response to them would
serve no useful purpose at this stage. It is the Procedure Committee's
present intention to review the present operations of parliamentary committees
I should like to use this occasion to make a general comment about action
on Procedure Committee reports. The reality of this House is that it looks
to the government of the day to take the lead in initiating action to
reform those procedures which require amendment to standing orders. Without
the support of the government, attempts to improve procedures cannot succeed.
Nevertheless, changes to the operations of this House affect all its members
and are not just the concern of the government. We all have a responsibility
to ensure that proposals get discussed so that private member's views
are heard. It should also be mentioned that some Procedure Committee recommendations
are matters to which the Speaker should respond, for example, when they
deal with the application of standing orders for which there exists procedural
precedents. I commend the report to the House.
In the few seconds that are left, I want to place on record my thanks
to the secretariat of the committee and to other members of the House
of Representatives Procedure Committee for the numerous meetings that
the committee has entailed this year in order to get out four reports
in a truncated year. I thank the committee for its hard work. I thank
the secretariatand, in particular, the secretary of the committee,
Robyn Webberfor their willing and hard work. I hope that Procedure
Committee reports receive a better response from the government in future.
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
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