Having set out to trash the Parliament since the last Election, it defies belief that the Federal Coalition now say they want higher parliamentary standards. They have got to be joking.
In 2010, they signed the Agreement for a Better Parliament with Federal Labor and the Independents. Only days later, they walked away from it.
“I think we can have a kinder, gentler polity.”
These words were uttered by Tony Abbott on 24 August 2010. He then went back on those words on 18 September 2010 and said:
“…the only constructive way to channel that frustration and disappointment is to redouble our attacks on the Labor Party.”
And that is exactly what the Opposition have done.
Every opportunity they get, the Opposition disrupts the Parliament and tries to shut down Question Time.
Through 72 attempts to suspend the House’s Standing Orders, they have lost the chance to ask 409 questions. That’s the equivalent of wiping out 18 full Question Time sessions.
Tony Abbott and his ‘Noalition’ have only has one true response to parliamentary reform – NO.
So, my message to Christopher Pyne is to stop treating the Australian people like mugs and to stop selling us a pup on parliamentary reform.
The only party that is serious about parliamentary reform is the Labor Party. Our record in the 43rd Parliament includes:
- Quadrupled time for private Members to debate motions and private bills;
- Brought private motions and bills to a vote unlike previous parliaments – 64 votes in 2012, compared to 0 in 2005;
- Increased the hours that Parliament sits in total – our average is 1,011 per year, compared with 771 under the Howard years;
- Introduced a Code of Conduct – which the Opposition voted against
- Established an independent Selection Committee to allow Members to schedule matters for debate and recommend votes;
- Established a Parliamentary Budget Office for the first time, to allow Members to cost policies – which the Opposition voted against;
- Established time limits on questions and answers during Question Time;
- Introduced supplementary questions to allow Members to follow up ministers;
- Introduced 90-second statements for private Members before Question Time and other constituency statement opportunities;
- Introduced time limits on ministerial statements; and
- Overhauled the House committee system, including establishing a Committee for Regional Australia (chaired by an Independent Member) and an Independent Chair of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts and Audit.
The true test for the Federal Coalition’s newfound interest in standards will come next week when Parliament resumes for the year. Will Tony Abbott and his colleagues adopt a positive approach or will they continue with their relentless negativity and destructive behaviour?
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.