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!


The 44th Parliament: Work Of The Session – Nov-Dec 2013

The House of Representatives has published the “work of the session” for the first 15 sitting days of the 44th Parliament.

The document covers the sitting days from November 12 to December 12, 2013.

Because of the federal election, the House of Representatives sat for only 48 days in 2013.

The Abbott government introduced 44 bills into the House in its first month. One private members bill was also considered. The bills comprise 1099 pages in total. 14 bills have been agreed to by the House and Senate. 23 bills are still before the Senate and 9 are still before the House. [Read more…]


Orientation Day For New Members Of The House Of Representatives

New members of the House of Representatives have assembled in Canberra for an orientation session.

New Members

The new members – 23 Liberals, 6 Nationals, 11 ALP, 1 Independent and 1 Palmer United Party – were addressed by the outgoing Speaker of the House, Anna Burke. She reminded them of the privilege it is to be one of only 1,133 members who have been elected to the House of Representatives since Federation in 1901. For non-members, Burke’s speech provides a fascinating insight into the life of a member of parliament. [Read more…]


Kevin Rudd’s First Question Time After Returning As Prime Minister

Kevin Rudd was re-elected leader of the ALP on June 26, 2013.

He was sworn in as Prime Minister at 9.51am on June 27. This is a recording of Question Time in the House of Representatives at 2pm that afternoon.

It was Rudd’s one and only Question Time in his second term as prime minister. The House adjourned at the end of the day for the winter break. It never met again and was dissolved ahead of the September 7 election. [Read more…]


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.


Louise Markus (Lib-Greenway) – Maiden Speech

The first member of the 41st parliament elected in 2004 to deliver what used to be known as a “maiden speech” was Louise Markus, the new Liberal member for Greenway.

Markus won the seat following the retirement of the Labor member, Frank Mossfield. She defeated the Labor candidate, Ed Husic. [Read more…]