The Standing Orders Committee has published its recommendations for changes to Standing Orders, which will inevitably be accepted by the House.
The previous review was quite bold and made some significant changes, which have enhanced Parliament considerably – especially the use of extended sitting to minimise the use of urgency.
This time, the changes are very modest and they have rejected almost every significant proposal for change. As one of those who advocated change, I’m disappointed.
There are some useful enhancements though. They include:
- Recommending funding for full webcasting of select committees
- Adopting the temporary rules in use for recording MPs attendance, so they can have pay deducted if absence without leave
- Allows the Business Committee to decide to retain question time when the House is in urgency (I and many advocated question time should be retained automatically)
- Allows sign language to be used in the House if an MP wishes
- Any opinions from the Attorney-General that a bill unjustifiably breaches the Bill of Rights Act will now be formally considered by the relevant select committee. However no requirement for amendments to be assessed by the Attorney-General for BORA compliance which is what we really need.
- Some minor changes to general debates on the Budget and PM’s statement, but no overall reduction in time allocated to them which is a pity as after the first six or so speeches they become meaningless speeches with no relevance to the topic.
- The time recorded for replies to written questions will not tae account of interim or holding replies, so that Ministers are incentivised to still provide full replies more quickly
- Make clear that donations to MPs such as for leadership contest expenses must be disclosed if over $500
But overall the report is more noticeable for what they did not do, than what they did agree to.