Feb 12, 2007

Howard Government reduces Parliamentary accountability

Howard Government reduces Parliamentary accountability

MEDIA RELEASE – ANTHONY ALBANESE MP

12 February 2007

Federal Labor and Federal Independents will join together to fight a Howard Government scheme to demolish the more than 100 year Parliamentary tradition of the Matter of Public Importance.

Tony Abbott will tonight move a motion to slash the time for a Matter of Public Importance by 50 per cent.

In 1901, the Federal Government adopted the principles which govern debate on MPIs, and those same principles stand today.

The Howard Government is arrogant and this is a gratuitous undermining of the Parliament.

They have been running things for 11 years and now want to reduce accountability even further. The Howard Government is doing this simply because they can.

An MPI is an important part of Australian democracy – it is an opportunity where an elected parliamentarian can give a major speech, calling the Prime Minister, Government and Senior Ministers to account and requires them to explain themselves.

Recent MPIs were debated on critical issues such as inaction on climate change and the war in Iraq.

It is very clear why John Howard wants to stop MPIs — they hold him to account and he wants to avoid accountability.

Federal Labor is vehemently opposed to the Abbott scheme.

We know there are rumblings in the Liberal and National Party backbench about the decision by Abbott to reduce debate in the Parliament.