Local, Independant and Effective

How I Vote in Parliament

Posted April 02, 2014

 

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HOW I VOTE

There has been interest in the past few days about my processes for voting in Parliament. Below is an outline of some of the principles and practice I have developed. As this is a ‘work in progress' I welcome comments and suggestions.

During the election campaign and following, I made a commitment to work with “the Government of the day” in partnership and collaboration to advance the cause of Indi and the national good. Together with the values below, these are the major principles guiding my voting.

I am committed to:

  • encouraging a diversity of voices and opinion, and participation in the electoral process, both regionally and nationally 
  • ensuring that our electorate voice is heard, and represented at the national level
  • encouraging respectful and mature representation of our democratic voices
  • undertaking activities which will create an invitation to participate in our democracy
  • developing and using simple, elegant processes when engaging with the electorate
  • being honest and respectful, being well informed, and will refer to reputable sources when making statements. 

On specific issues I will be guided by the policy statements I committed to during the campaign. These include telecommunications; climate change; health, and mental health; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; education; agriculture; transport; young people; and cross-border issues related to small business. (Details can be found here.)

Voting in Parliament

In the practical day-to-day of Parliament, there are two general types of motions: substantive motions, which usually concern the passage of legislation, and procedural motions, which cover the operations of the House.

Unless there is some conflict to values or policy, I generally support the Government of the day on substantive motions. And, where appropriate, I will support amendments which I believe improve legislation. 

When procedural motions are discussed, it is my general approach to support the role of Parliament for open, respectful debate which enables the diversity of perspectives and representation to occur. Where possible I vote in support of procedural motions that enable the business of the house to be conducted in an efficient and effective manner. 

On ‘gag motions’ (which are procedural motions), it has been my practice to vote for debate and discussion and against motions that end debate – frequently referred to as ‘the gag’. Usually it is the Government moving the gag and it has been my practice to vote with the Opposition against these motions.

*****

Support for the speaker: The ‘rule book’ for parliamentary procedure is the House of Representatives Practice; it contains a significant section on the Speaker (p188). It says that the main role of the Speaker is to "preserve order in the Chamber to enable business to be conducted properly”.

It is important to also know that no Member of the House is allowed to publicly criticise the Speaker.  I will not be doing this and will keep my personal views of the current Speaker to myself. 

*****

On the afternoon of Thursday 27 March 2014, the Leader of Government Business moved that the Member for Isaacs be removed from the house. I voted against this motion.  The Leader of Opposition Business then requested ‘leave’ to move a censure motion against The Speaker.  Leave was not given. There was no vote.  This was followed by a motion by the Leader of Opposition Business to suspend standing orders – and debate commenced on this motion. I voted against the suspension of standing orders.

My reasoning: this motion was moved half way through Question Time on the last day of sittings within two hours of the House adjourning. It was a procedural motion, moved, from my perspective to disrupt the effective conduct of business, and was in effect a no confidence motion in The Speaker.

While there is much that can be debated about the role of the speaker, and the way individual speakers carry out their duty, if this debate is to be done with respect, with true consideration for the business of the house and with the intention of creating an improved situation, then serious attention needs to be given to how and when this debate takes place.  These conditions were not in place on Thursday afternoon.


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