Australian Opposition Leader backflips on parliamentary reforms: independent

13:18, September 17, 2010      

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Australian coalition on Friday has been accused of breaking a deal on parliamentary reform, after reneging on an agreement that would have paved the way for an independent Speaker.

Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Rob Oakeshott, who has put his hand up to be the Speaker, has called for the matter to be urgently resolved before the parliament sits again on September 28.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will now meet with the Oakeshott on Monday to discuss parliamentary reform and details regarding the speakership.

Under the reform proposed by three independents during negotiation to form minority government, 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.

Oakeshott said the coalition had signed off on parliamentary reforms which would allow the Speaker to be paired with another MP, allowing him to retain the right to vote on legislation. However, he said the coalition had now reneged on that deal.

"This isn't about me and some out-of-control ego, this is trying to unlock the situation facing the parliament on day one," Oakeshott told Sky News on Friday.

"This is a deep concern now, if this agreement goes out the window, then we may have a Mexican stand-off on day one of the parliament before any other business of the parliament can actually happen."

"And if that is the case that is a poor reflection on those who signed the agreement ... and are now seeming to say they didn't do their due diligence at the time and are breaking a very clear and very public agreement."

The comments came after manager of opposition business Christopher Pyne on Thursday said the speaker could not paired because he did not have a deliberative vote, despite the earlier agreement.

"We have to allow this to be unlocked either with members of political parties or with cross-benches by allowing for pairing rights," Oakeshott said.

Despite the backflip, Abbott maintains he remains committed to parliamentary reform.

"We're committed to parliamentary reform, I was committed to parliamentary reform before the election," he told Fairfax Radio Network.

Abbott said he would discuss the matter with Oakeshott, although repeated comments made on Thursday backing Labor's Harry Jenkins to remain Speaker.

"I have always said I have wanted to move towards the Westminster style of speakership and the best way to bring that about would be for Harry Jenkins to continue."

Source: Xinhua


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