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Speaker “convention” arrives out of thin air!

By johnboy - 4 November 2008 19

In the Canberra Times Victor Violante has unkindly inquired into Mr Stanhope’s new convention of getting whatever he wants on the nomination of a speaker of the Assembly.

He’s basing his claim on supposed agreements reached in 1998. The problem is that the Liberals he said set the precedent can’t remember anything of the sort.

Long term assembly watchers have long thrilled to the way our brave leader can pull a new interpretation of convention out of thin air in a manner somewhat reminiscent of Captain Jack (but without the charm, or we fervently hope the nudity).

In other assembly news the ABC informs that a really major cabinet reshuffle is underway with the portfolios getting a re-working.

UPDATED: The ABC now brings word that Labor are trying to put out the fire by nominating the sainted, Mary Porter for the speaker’s role. No moving on of Hargreaves after all. Cabinet will remain the same old bunch from last time.

What’s Your opinion?


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19 Responses to
Speaker “convention” arrives out of thin air!
jimbocool 11:05 am 05 Nov 08

Looks like the Green’s dangerous maverick got the job :-). Another national first I believe – first Green presiding member in any Australian partliament?

A total washout for the Libs then, I assume Mary Porter was elected as Deputy Speaker.

So Parliamentary Convenor Hunter will get extra pay once the Remuneration Tribunal makes a determination on what the Leader of the Greens (who are now accorded Party status) should get. Shane gets a bulging pay packet as Speaker (and extra staff).Presumably Amanda Bresnan will get to be Greens Whip and pocket an extra allowance. Caroline Le Couteur will just have to make do with a Committee chair.

housebound 10:46 am 05 Nov 08

Looks like it’s Rattenbury:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/11/05/2410617.htm

It’s a shame. I’d rather see him out there in the debate. At least he might not do what Labor tells him to, I hope.

jimbocool 10:13 am 05 Nov 08

@robbi64 – the appointment of speaker has two advantages:
1 – you can either offload an underperformer (eg Greg Cornwell) or put a dangerous maverick out of the way(eg Wayne Berry).
2 – the speaker controls the Assembly. This means control of debates in the chamber as well as being decision-maker on Assembly wide adminsitrative matters. This latter role has an impact on the opposition, crossbench and ALP backbench as the Speaker makes rulings on office allocations, spending requests, travel and the like.

The attraction to the Greens would be the control aspects of debates – an independent Speaker would lessen the ‘two dogs barking’ effect of the major parties dominating debate with partisan point-scoring.

@Jonathon Reynolds – a successful dissent motion against a Speaker’s ruling should see the Speaker resign. I believe there was a successful dissent motion against a Cornwell ruling in 2000, but he kept the chair because the deciding vote, Kerrie Tucker, did not realise the effect of a successful dissent motion and the motion was either put again or it was ‘agreed’ Cornwell need not resign (I can’t remember exactly).

pug206gti 6:51 am 05 Nov 08

In my time working in an ACT Government department ministerial area we always had the assembly playing during sittings. I think the highlights of the last year were definitely generally Hargreaves related and usually involved him mouthing off at the interjectors, going off on random tangents and slurring his speech a little, generally after lunch. He’s hardly Peter Costello but he comes out with some pretty funny stuff.

Probably my second favourite moment was Katy Gallagher with an impassioned yelling match at Mrs Burke about Care and Protection. Not quite as funny, but a good smackdown nonetheless.

Jonathon Reynolds 11:42 pm 04 Nov 08

Bundybear said :

Greens first big test, anyone giving odds they cave on this one, therebye setting the scene for four years of another majority Labor government, just a bit lefter?

You can remove a Chief Minister with the passing of a no confidence vote. However, I do not think there is any precedence or procedure for removing the Speaker in the electoral term once that position has been set.

Dante 8:58 pm 04 Nov 08

That’s a good point Bundybear, Porter made the most constituent representations of any MLA.. surely that’d be dropping off a bit if she became Speaker?

Looks like Labor are keen to keep up their traditions of less community consultation where possible…

Gungahlin Al 8:04 pm 04 Nov 08

Thanks tempestas. Yes that was my idea – to separate the policy formulation from the implementation. But it also helps put all the key policy planning bits together without making that department too big (and too big for one Minister).

On builders: yep mighta had something to do with it!

robbi64 2:53 pm 04 Nov 08

I’m having a little wonder … what advantage would there be for The Greens if one of their number became Speaker? What about a Labor, or a Liberal? What is the advantage to be gained overall? Can someone knowledgeable let loose with a good rant for me?

It hasn’t been done in Tasmania (to my knowledge) because the majority was so slim, they didn’t dare water down their numbers. It did get offered, but The Greens refused.

Thanks in advance for satisfying my curiosity and keeping me away from the horsies. 🙂

Tetranitrate 2:18 pm 04 Nov 08

Tetranitrate said :

if the Liberals are smart

Actually, scratch that.

Tetranitrate 2:17 pm 04 Nov 08

The greens should put one of their own up as speaker – if the Liberals are smart they’ll back them.

miz 1:58 pm 04 Nov 08

All I know is, I’ve got Stanhope overload already . . . how many announcements has he made this week, and it’s only Tuesday!

Bundybear 1:42 pm 04 Nov 08

Just this minute heard that Labor is proposing Mary Porter. Isn’t she “the Member of a 1000 amendments” or something. Does this mean the Speaker will now spend more time speaking than the Ministers? If elected of course.
Greens first big test, anyone giving odds they cave on this one, therebye setting the scene for four years of another majority Labor government, just a bit lefter?
Agreed LG, all care, no responsibility.

LG 12:03 pm 04 Nov 08

I find the speaker gig quite surprising. I would have thought the Green’s would want to put their hand up so they’d have a chance to actually influence how the Assembly operates. If they don’t go for the job, it’ll add to my view that all they’re interested in is gaining as much power as they can without actually having any responsibility attached.

If Labor had of won at least 1 extra seat then I’d be fine for them to take the Speaker’s job again but since they only have seven (with 5 of them to be in Cabinet) I’d say the Speaker’s gig is fair game for anyone.

My other conspiracy theory is that Stanhope wants to dump an existing Minister in the reshuffle but the only good PR way to do it is to ‘promote’ them to Speaker.

Tempestas 10:00 am 04 Nov 08

Clear logical thinking there Al, (no wonder you had difficulty finding the right builder – they must of found you difficult).
There is a really good arguments for separating the making the rules from applying the rules functions.

I’d suggest that by including public transport and transport infrastructure planning etc would put a lot of interested parties noses out of joint, which makes it an exceedingly good idea, and no doubt one that will be overlooked.

As for “conventions” FFS, we hardly have been around long enough to have them let alone to pretend they are sacrosanct.

Gungahlin Al 9:35 am 04 Nov 08

Zed’s response to this on 666 yesterday could probably be summed up as WTF??

On the reshuffle, at least these things can happen in the ACT government without the Fed’s unnecessary complete redesigning of departments and moving everyone around – an industry in its own right in this town.

So how would people restructure the portfolios and or departments?

I would shift transport design back to planning, but cut ACTPLA’s planning and approvals sections apart. A normal departmental arm should undertake all the planning and design work for land development, transport design and land release should be folded into this back from the CMD. The arm’s-length situation of the Authority from the Assembly should not apply to the planning processes – that is core responsibility for MLAs. Strategic environmental planning could also be combined into this, to the extent that it isn’t already.

The development approval section however should remain as a free-standing authority, with arms-length from the Assembly.

Transport delivery (construction and public transport) should be more closely combined, as the overall transport budget must be kept together – expenditure on public transport offsets costs in road construction, therefore placing the functions together places the budgets together so that this aspects finally gets recognised. Therefore ACTION should cease being a separate agency.

Education is a massive portfolio and should be free-standing, probably a single ministry. Likewise health. perhaps then the various other community services out of TaMS and DHCS should be combined?

I also think that the water and wastewater functions now at arms length in ACTEW shouldn’t be. Health and hygiene services are core government functions and should never (IMHO) be privatised or even structured in a way that would allow possible privatising.

My thoughts. Happy to discuss.

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