Independents and Australian major parties reach a deal on parliamentary reform

17:40, September 06, 2010      

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Australia's three country independents and the major parties on Monday reached a deal on parliamentary reform.

The independents have been negotiating with Labor and the Coalition about new rules for the way Parliament works, including time limits on questions and answers, and a more independent speaker.

In a press conference held in Canberra with Labor's Anthony Albanese and the Coalition's Christopher Pyne, the independent Member of Parliament (MP) for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott, said a deal has been done following Monday's meetings with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

"We have just reached agreement," Oakeshott told reporters in Canberra on Monday afternoon.

Under the reform 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 said.

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

Meanwhile, the government's leader in the House of Representatives, Anthony Albanese, said there was goodwill to make the parliamentary reforms proceed.

"You need goodwill for reform to be progressed across the parliament; I think that goodwill is there," Albanese said in the media conference, adding that there would be a sitting by the end of 2010, with a review mechanism to see how the reforms would work.

Other measures include power be transferred from the executive of government to the parliament's 150 lower house members, 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.

Source: Xinhua


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