That’s It, You’re Out: Disorderly Conduct In The House Of Representatives

The 43rd Parliament was the most disorderly in the history of the Australian Parliament, according to statistics compiled by the Parliamentary Library.

A research paper written by Rob Lundie and published today by the Parliamentary Library shows that 27.4% of the 1,093 members of the House of Representatives between 1901 and the end of the 43rd Parliament in August were named and/or suspended or ‘sin binned’ for disorderly conduct.

There were 1,352 instances of disorderly behaviour identified in the official Hansard record of parliamentary proceedings. The paper uses four criteria for measuring disorderly behaviour:

  1. number of disciplinary actions
  2. number of sitting weeks in which a member was disciplined
  3. number of days when four or more members were disciplined
  4. number of different members disciplined

On this basis, the two parliaments of the Rudd and Gillard governments (42nd & 43rd) were more disorderly than the four parliaments of the Howard governments (38th, 39th, 40th & 41st). But these six parliaments since 1996 have been the most disorderly since 1901. [Read more…]


Abbott Pressures Parliament To Repeal Taxes By Christmas

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has repeated his call for the Parliament to repeal the carbon and mining taxes by Christmas.

With Parliament due to begin its final week for the year tomorrow, Abbott has posted a video on YouTube in which he says that “December is the time to deal with unfinished business”.

There have been suggestions in recent weeks that the government might keep the Parliament sitting closer to Christmas. In fact, the government can only determine when the House will sit and it will have dealt with the relevant legislation by the end of the week.

In the Senate, control lies with the ALP and the Greens and it is not yet clear whether the legislation will be voted on before it rises.

  • Watch Abbott’s video message (2m)

Governor-General’s Proclamation Summoning Parliament

The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, has issued a proclamation summoning the Parliament to meet on November 12.

The proclamation is issued under Section 5 of the Constitution, which empowers the Governor-General to “appoint such times for holding the sessions of the Parliament as he thinks fit”.

As in all such matters, the proclamation is issued on the advice of the Prime Minister. It is the government that has decided when Parliament is to meet, not the Governor-General. [Read more…]


Today’s Political Activity

These are today’s briefings from Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and others on Cyclone Yasi. [Read more…]


Dissolutions, Prorogations and a Mea Culpa

I learned a timely lesson earlier today.

Sitting in my car after leaving an appointment, I looked at Twitter to see if any there was any news of interest.

A number of media outlets and journalists were tweeting that a 19-gun salute was about to take place, at 4.59pm to be precise, outside Parliament House in Canberra.

Then I managed to forget things I used to know and proceeded to make a fool of myself. Well, I could argue only half a fool, but that’s a bit like being half mad or half pregnant.

I took issue with statements by others that the prorogation of Federal Parliament was about to take place. I was wrong. The Parliament was prorogued at 4.59pm. Here’s the explanation from the Parliamentary Education Office. Thanks to @2ricz.

Before dissolving the House of Representatives, the Governor-General issues a proclamation proroguing the Parliament. Prorogation is an ancient power of the British Crown adopted in the Australian Parliament as the means of bringing a session of Parliament to a close. A prorogation may take place separately from an election, but this rarely happens now except for ceremonial purposes. For example, in 1974 and 1977 the Parliament was prorogued when the Queen visited Australia which enabled Her Majesty to attend and open Parliament. When an election is called, the Prime Minister usually announces a dissolution and prorogation of Parliament at the same time before they are formalised by the Secretary to the Governor-General in a public ceremony in front of Parliament House. After the Parliament is prorogued and the House of Representatives dissolved, bills and other business before the House of Representatives and the Senate lapse and will need to be reintroduced. The government becomes a caretaker government and, by convention, does not make major decisions. The sittings of the Senate are terminated, but Senate Committees may still operate.

I took issue with statements by others that the Parliament was dissolved at 5.00pm. I was right. The House of Representatives was dissolved at 5.00pm but the Senate wasn’t. The Senate is only dissolved when there is a double dissolution and that hasn’t happened since 1987.

I took issue with the assertion that Parliament was “deferred”. I was right. As @ljLoch tweeted, whilst that might be a nice concept, Parliament is never deferred.

The lesson? As that old saying goes, sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.


Western Australian Government To Toughen MPs Disclosure Laws

The Gallop Labor government in Western Australia is to introduce sweeping new financial disclosure rules for WA members of parliament.

The new rules include requiring MPs to disclose information about family holdings and publishing details of MPs’ financial interests on the internet. [Read more…]


ALP Women Continue Fight For Equal Representation

The ALP Women’s Conference, meeting in Canberra over the weekend, has called for the ALP to achieve a target of 50% of women in internal party positions and in the various Federal, State and Territory Parliaments.

ALP Women MPs
Parliament % Women
Federal
27
N.S.W.
21
Victoria
32
Queensland
41
Western Australia
25
South Australia
48
Tasmania
29
A.C.T.
35
N.T.
31
Source: Canberra Times, April 29, 2002

The ALP has previously adopted a policy of having 35% of women in safe and/or winnable seats.

Speakers at the conference drew attention to the disparity in female representation across the various Parliaments. South Australia and Queensland have the highest proportion of ALP women members, whilst Western Australia and New South Wales have the lowest proportion. (See table opposite.)

The debate over affirmative action in party pre-selections is a controversial one within the ALP. Critics argue that candidates should be chosen on their merits, whereas the former Victorian Premier, Joan Kirner, is reported today as saying: “Well, yes, they should be selected on merit, and what this does is give women an opportunity to demonstrate their merit. The competition should be about merit for everybody.” [Read more…]