Question without notice:
Ms CUPPER (Mildura): Thank you, Speaker. My question is for the independent member for Shepparton. Why is there a need to debate the procedural motion in the member’s notice of motion 40 on the notice paper, which seeks amendments to the standing orders to make provision for a non-government business program in this house?
The SPEAKER: Order! As the member for Mildura probably knows, there is a narrow ability for members to ask questions of other members around the timing of matters that are on the notice paper. So the member for Shepparton will answer the question in a manner that fits within the forms of the house—that is, in relation to the timing of the matter that she has got on the notice paper.
Answer: Ms SHEED (Shepparton): I thank the member for Mildura for this outstanding question. This is a matter that has been on the notice paper for a very long time, just as have many other notices of motion that are on the notice paper, and in this place we do not get the opportunity to debate those notices of motion. I am raising this issue now because it is a question of the time. There are five weeks left of this Parliament. I have been raising this issue in this place for a very, very long time. Everybody knows that I have been raising this issue for a very long time. This is the only lower house of any Parliament in Australia that does not make provision for a non-government business program. The time has come for that to be reinstated. There has been a long journey of removing the capacity of this lower house to provide members on this side of the house the ability to represent their electorates and to bring matters before this house—to, for instance, introduce a private members bill. So there are many, many things that we are not allowed to do on this side of the house because we have lost that capacity to have a non-government business program. With only five weeks left, with a federal election that has just occurred, people might think that it is strange that an independent has asked another independent a question, but let me tell you, no less than the current Prime Minister did the same thing in the federal Parliament some 20 years ago. If this is the only way that an independent member or indeed anyone on this side of the house can raise certain issues, then that is not good enough, and it is time that everyone in this place took note of the fact that it is not a true exercise of democracy that is happening here. There are things that have occurred over a long period, a period when back in the 1990s during the Kennett government a government business program was imposed and gradually the non-government business program was whittled away to the point now where we do not have one. That has a massive impact on everyone on this side of the house, on independents—and, let me tell you, the independents are on the march. We have just seen that in a federal election with the biggest crossbench in the federal Parliament—
The SPEAKER: The member is going to need to come back to timing and procedure.
Ms SHEED: that we have ever seen. So these issues are critical. This has been on the notice paper for a long time, and I have tried to raise it in many other forums. I ask the government to hear it.
Supplementary Question: Ms CUPPER (Mildura): My supplementary question to the member is: what are the implications of not bringing on a debate on notice of motion 40 on the notice paper in the member for Shepparton’s name?
The SPEAKER: Order! I remind the member that in answering the question she needs to limit her remarks to timing and procedure.
Answer: Ms SHEED: I am indebted to the member for Mildura for again asking such an important question in relation to the operation of this house and to the fact that the timing of this has really become critical, with only five weeks left in this Parliament for this issue to be debated. In so many other houses people on this side have the opportunity to raise issues. I often think of the independent member for Murray in the New South Wales Parliament, who has been able to introduce bills before the lower house of her Parliament—important water bills, important issues around what matters to her community. It is truly time for us to have a look at how this place runs, and this issue that I have put on the notice paper—number 40—sets out the changes that need to be made. I would absolutely call on the government to take notice and do this.