A historic meeting of the Australian Parliament began today, with members of both houses now able to participate remotely in proceedings, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The House of Representatives met at 10.00am and formalised the arrangements.
Members are able to participate from their electorate offices via the parliament’s video system. They cannot vote remotely.
The government and opposition agreed on the format of remote access in recent weeks. Negotiations were handled by the Leader of the House, Christian Porter, and the Manager of Opposition Business, Tony Burke.
Statements from House Speaker, Tony Smith, and the Senate President, Scott Ryan, appear below.
Watch the opening proceedings in the House of Representatives (24m):
These are remarks to the House of Representatives on the retirement of the Clerk of the House, David Elder.
On the Clerk’s final day at the table, remarks in tribute were made by Speaker Tony Smith, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, Government Leader of the House Christian Porter, and Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke.
Listen to the tributes (19m):
Watch the tributes (19m):
Hansard transcript of remarks to the House of Representatives on the retirement of the Clerk, David Elder.
The SPEAKER (15:14): Very soon I will call the Prime Minister to move a motion to record the House’s appreciation for the service of its Clerk, David Elder. As I mentioned a few sitting days back, everyone is aware of David’s retirement, but today is his last day here at the table. We, of course, all want to recognise that incredible service.
The Speaker, Tony Smith, advised the House of Representatives this afternoon that he had set July 28 as the date for the five by-elections caused by recent resignations relating to dual citizenship.
Smith told the House that because of new regulations to refine the nomination process and because of imminent schools holidays, July 28 was the “optimal” date for the by-elections in Longman, Braddon, Mayo, Fremantle and Perth.
The ALP opposition accused the Speaker of inordinate delay and said the by-elections coincided with the ALP National Conference in Adelaide.
Listen to Speaker’s statement to the House (21m)
Watch the House proceedings (21m)
Hansard transcript of House of Representatives proceedings relating to the calling of five by-elections on July 28.
The SPEAKER (15:12): If members could cease interjecting, could I please have the attention of the House on this important matter: I’d like to read a fairly lengthy statement, and then I’ll be tabling some documents. Earlier in the week, I advised the House I would provide an update on possible dates for by-elections in the seats of Braddon, Fremantle, Longman, Mayo and Perth. This update follows further consultation with the Australian Electoral Commissioner and party leaders. Under the Constitution, it is my responsibility alone to issue a writ for a by-election when a vacancy occurs, and generally it has not been the practice to provide an explanation for the exercise of this responsibility. I have varied from the usual practice because of the quite unusual—quite unique—circumstances surrounding these by-elections.
The death of John Bourchier, a former member for Bendigo, was announced to the House of Representatives today.
The Speaker, Tony Smith, announced that Bourchier died on August 31. He was 87.
Bourchier represented the Victorian division of Bendigo for the Liberal Party for five terms from 1972 until 1983. He was a backbencher throughout.
Bourchier’s arrival in the House coincided with the election of the Whitlam government. Bourchier defeated David Kennedy, who had held the seat for the ALP since 1969. A campaign against Kennedy over the abortion issue is widely regarded as contributing to his defeat. Whilst Kennedy topped the primary vote with 47.7% to Bourchier’s 26.7%, Bourchier was elected with the aid of Country Party (17.3%) and DLP (8.4%) preferences. He defeated Kennedy by 165 votes (50.2%).
The Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, today officially opened the 45th Parliament, following the July double dissolution election.
Ceremonies in the morning saw senators and members of the House of Representatives sworn in. The Senate President, Senator Stephen Parry, and the House Speaker, Tony Smith, were both re-elected unopposed.
At 3pm, the Governor-General summoned the House members to the Senate and delivered a 38-minute speech. By convention, the speech is written by the government and outlines its program for the new parliament.
It was Cosgrove’s first speech opening a new parliament. Last April, he delivered a short speech reconvening the 44th Parliament, following its prorogation.