Can You Help?

This website is in imminent danger of being shut down. It has been online since 1995, but the personal circumstances of the owner, Malcolm Farnsworth, are such that economies have to be made. Server costs and suchlike have become prohibitive. At the urging of people online, I have agreed to see if Patreon provides a solution. More information is available at the Patreon website. If you are able to contribute even $1.00/month to keep the site running, please click the Patreon button below.


Become a Patron!


A Scenario For Tony Abbott And A Motion Of No-Confidence

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s intention to give notice of a no-confidence motion when Parliament returns this week has always been a potentially messy business.

A brief explanation: the government controls the Notice Paper in the House of Representatives. This is the document which outlines the order and timing of debate, including the order of legislation.

Whilst there are set times when the Opposition can bring on debate on particular issues (such as in regular Matters of Public Importance), if it wants to move a specific motion it needs to first move a motion for the Suspension of Standing Orders.

Abbott

Abbott attempted to do this during Question Time on March 21, whilst the government was preoccupied with the leadership spill that wasn’t. He sought to suspend standing orders in order to move: “That this House declares no confidence in the Prime Minister.”

The motion was carried by 73 votes to 71 but was defeated because a suspension of standing orders requires an absolute majority of 76 votes.

Abbott then announced that he would give notice of a no-confidence motion when the House resumes tomorrow. He didn’t say whether it would be no-confidence in the government or the prime minister. The difference is technically significant but may not necessarily be crucial to the outcome of any vote. [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.


Black Saturday Bushfires: Moving Speeches In Parliament For Victims

The House of Representatives was the scene today of a moving condolence motion for victims of the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria.

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, was not in attendance, having stayed in Melbourne, but his deputy, Julia Gillard, visibly affected, gave a magnificent speech to a silent chamber. She was followed by the Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull, who delivered an equally impressive and moving speech. [Read more…]


Rudd Government Faces First Question Time

The Rudd Government has faced its first Question Time in the new Parliament.

The Opposition Leader’s first question was about petrol and food prices. It required a Dorothy Dixer from the government’s backbench for the stolen generations apology to be raised.

Julia Gillard delivered the most assured and polished performance, emphasising the government’s mandate on industrial relations when asked about the legislation introduced today to dismantle the Howard government’s WorkChoices. [Read more…]


John Howard’s Senate Abuses – The Story Since July 1st

The Federal Opposition has itemised what it calls abuse of process, procedure and convention in the Senate since July 1, the date on which the coalition government assumed a one-seat majority in the upper house.

The ALP leader in the Senate, Chris Evans, has itemised a list of government actions concerning Question Time, censure motions, guillotines, gags and Senate Committees.

The Opposition argues these actions constitute “democratic abuses”.

Text of a media statement Senator Chris Evans, the ALP leader in the Senate.

John Howard’s Senate Abuses – Process, Procedure and Convention – the Story Since 1 July

Since gaining senate control, the Howard Government has rolled out what has become a very long list of democratic abuses. [Read more…]


Greens Condemn Secrecy, Abuse Of Parliament

The Australian Greens have reacted following the recall of the Senate to pass an amendment to counter-terrorist legislation and the Prime Minister’s announcement of a “potential terrorist threat” to Australia.

This is the text of a media release from the Australian Greens Senator, Rachel Siewert.

Prime Minister’s IR Sleight Of Hand Condemned

Nov 3, 2005

Senator Rachel Siewer“The Prime Minister received notice of this apparent terror threat well before the Industrial Relations bill was tabled yesterday,” Senator Siewert said. “Why then, did they go ahead with the introduction of the IR bill before introducing the terror amendment?” [Read more…]


Address-In-Reply Speech: Mark Latham, Leader of the Opposition

This is the Address-in-Reply speech of the Leader of the Opposition, Mark Latham.

The Address-in-Reply debate is the formal occasion in which members can respond to the Governor-General’s speech opening Parliament.

The speech turned out to be one of Latham’s last contributions to the House. He resigned the leadership of the ALP and his seat of Werriwa in January 2005.

In the speech, Latham baited visitors in the public gallery who were waiting to hear Malcolm Turnbull’s maiden speech. The future prime minister spoke after Latham. [Read more…]


Personal Explanations – House of Representatives

Members of Parliament may rise in the chamber and claim to be misrepresented.

Members who claim to be misrepresented are permitted to give a brief personal explanation.

This is the text and audio of personal explanations from three members of the House of Representatives on November 29, 2004.

The three members were: Ian Causley, the National Party member for Page; Anthony Albanese, the ALP member for Grayndler; and Tony Windsor, the independent member for New England. All three members were from New South Wales. [Read more…]


Presentation Of Petitions – House Of Representatives

This is the Presentation of Petitions in the House of Representatives on November 29, 2004.

The text of some of the petitions is also shown below.

This 6-minute clip of the Presentation of Petitions is longer than normal because of the intervening election period. [Read more…]


Condolences For Former Senator Janine Haines – House Of Representatives

The House of Representatives has paid tribute to former Senator Janine Haines, who died on November 20, 2004. She was 59.

Haines was first appointed to a South Australian casual vacancy in the Senate in 1977. At that time, she replaced the former Liberal Movement Senator Steele Hall, who had resigned and ultimately rejoined the Liberal Party and was elected to the House.

Haines’ term expired in 1978, but she was elected as an Australian Democrats senator at the 1980 election, taking her seat in 1981. Following Don Chipp’s retirement in 1986, she became leader of the party.

Haines resigned her Senate seat to contest the House seat of Kingston at the 1990 election but she was defeated by the sitting Labor MP, Gordon Bilney. [Read more…]