Australia's parliamentary reform passed

15:39, September 29, 2010      

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The Australian Federal Parliament Wednesday passed a package of changes to its own rules and procedures.

Labor Party has lost its first vote in parliament's lower house, after the coalition won a division on parliamentary reform.

According to ABC News, the government opposed the amendment, but with the independents splitting, the Opposition has won 73 votes to 72.

The package of changes includes: question Time will now finish no later than 90 minutes after it starts and there can only be one point of order from the Opposition during the response. Questions will also be limited to 45 seconds.

In other changes to the standing orders, 30 members a week will be able to make 90-second statements on matters important to them in the main chamber, matters of public importance will immediately follow Question Time and the committee system will also be overhauled.

Leader of the House Anthony Albanese hailed the passing of the changes, but said there will be an assessment in coming weeks over how they are working and whether further refinements are needed.

Independent Member of Parliament (MPs) Rob Oakeshott was a main driver of the changes, and emphasized that he wanted to see all private members bills voted on.

"If an individual brings in strangle-all-cats legislation, this Parliament should have the strength of character... to allow that to be voted on," Oakeshott told reporters in Canberra.

Other reforms have been agreed to but cannot be enforced under the standing orders. This includes the establishment of an integrity commissioner, changes to electoral funding and additional sitting weeks.

The Opposition said it will assess each case individually.

Source: Xinhua


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