House of Representatives Committees
Standing Committee on Procedure
Inquiry into the arrangements for second reading speeches
On 26 June 2003 the Procedure Committee accepted an invitation from the Speaker to inquire into and report on the arrangements relating to second reading speeches.
Currently the time limits for debate on the second reading of a Bill are 30 minutes for the mover and the Leader of the Opposition or a Member deputising for the Leader of the Opposition. All other Members can speak for a maximum of 20 minutes.
The committee will report on a proposal to set aside 5 minutes from the maximum speaking time permitted in order to allow spontaneous questions from the floor. The committee will consider issues such as whether questions would need to be limited in number (for example, three), limited in relation to the time taken to ask (say 30 seconds) and answer (say 90 seconds). The proposal would, in effect, allow a brief Question Time at the end of a Member's second reading speech.
The object of the inquiry is to consider further procedures which would encourage greater spontaneity and enliven debate in the House. It would allow Members to actively participate in debate and not merely listen. It might also result in more Members attending in the Chamber.
The procedure of "interventions" currently being used in the Main Committee has a similar objective. The committee completed a preliminary evaluation of that trial and determined that while the procedure had not been implemented for long, early results indicated increased interactive debate in the Main Committee. Members appear to value the procedure.
The committee will seek input from all Members before finalising its views on the proposal.
Report (PDF 60KB)
Chair's tabling statement (PDF 8KB)
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