On behalf of the Standing Committee on Procedure, I present the committee’s report entitled Maintenance of the standing orders, together with the minutes of proceedings.
Report made a parliamentary paper in accordance with standing order 39(e).
It is with pleasure that I present the report of the Procedure Committee’s inquiry into the maintenance of standing orders. It has become something of a tradition for the Procedure Committee to adopt such an inquiry in each parliament. This allows the committee to consider how the standing orders have operated over the course of the parliament.
As the 46th Parliament nears its conclusion, the report reflects on aspects of the House procedure and on how the standing orders have operated in the past 2½ years. Some observations are specific to the 46th Parliament while others relate to the more technical aspects of the standing orders.
The committee has made nine recommendations. The first recommendation is to allow ministerial responses to petitions to be published prior to their presentation to the House. This would enable petitioners to have more timely access to ministerial responses. Currently publication of the responses can be delayed by non-sitting periods. The second recommendation is to remove the need for members to accompany the newly elected Speaker to his or her presentation to the Governor-General on the opening day of a new parliament.
This could streamline proceedings on the opening day. The remaining recommendations are more technical. They are intended to make the standing orders more reflective of current practice, improve consistency within the standing orders or remove redundant references. The committee recommends that some minor technical amendments be made as Clerk’s amendments.
In December 2020 the committee reported on the practices and procedures put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have taken the opportunity to add some further observations in the report that I have presented today. The report also notes our view that it would be useful to monitor the impact on House business of sitting weeks that do not include a Monday sitting.
Finally, the report discusses a number of items of House practice relating to the operation of particular standing orders. These relate to time limits for speaking, business in the Federation Chamber and committee practice. In doing so, the committee hopes to assist members by clarifying some of the practical points about the day-to-day operation of the House and its committees.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the deputy chair, the honourable member for Oxley, whom I’ve known for over 30 years. We have worked together very well on this committee, and I thank him for his friendship. To the other members, such as the members for Chisholm, Ryan, Perth, Moore and Lalor, thank you very much for all the work you have done during the committee’s time.
You’ve made our committee run flawlessly and you’ve shown the better aspects of parliamentary work. To the secretariat, so ably led by Natalie Cooke and assisted by Kate, Penny and Jenny: thank you so much for your professionalism—well done. I commend the report to the House.