Australian Labor agrees to parliamentary reform demands

11:23, September 05, 2010      

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Australian Labor Party on Sunday agreed to the parliamentary reform proposals put forward by one of the key independents, Rob Oakeshott.

Oakeshott has released a draft version of the parliamentary reform paper he has been working on with both major parties, and said he is hopeful both sides are about to agree to change the way Parliament works.

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese on Sunday declared that Labor has already agreed to the proposals, while Oakeshott wants the document signed before he announces which side he will back to form a minority government.

Under the proposal, if the speaker is from one of the major parties, the deputy would be from the other side, and both would then stop going to their party-room meetings.

There would also be a move to ensure whichever party the speaker comes from would not be disadvantaged by losing their vote.

"It involves 30-second questions and a three-minute limit on answers, it involves amending the standing orders so that answers and questions will have to be more directly relevant to the question," Albanese told Channel Nine on Sunday.

"It will ensure that the speaker has the power to rule out questions that are argumentative or don't ask for issues of fact."

Other measures include forcing the government to respond to committee reports within six months, and all new bills would go to a committee before they are introduced to the house.

There would also be a parliamentary budget office to do independent costings.

Oakeshott and his fellow incumbent independents Bob Katter and Tony Windsor are yet to formally declare which side they will support.

The newly elected Greens' Member of Parliament (MP) Adam Bandt, and independent MP Andrew Wilkie has declared to support Labor to form a minority government last week.

It means Labor can now claim 74 seats in the 150-member lower house of parliament. A total of at least 76 seats is needed for either party to form a government on their own.

The opposition coalition has 73 seats, but it could still win the race to form a government if the three remaining independents line up behind its leader, Tony Abbott.

Source:Xinhua

(Editor:梁军)

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