CONSTITUTION (INDEPENDENT SPEAKER) AMENDMENT BILL

 I rise to briefly make a few remarks in relation to the bill, which has been introduced by the member for Florey to amend the Constitution Act 1934. Essentially, as I understand, the bill tabled today is to provide for the obligation of any person who is elected as Speaker while occupying an office to not be able to actively participate in the votes or be a member of a registered political party, as the office of Speaker is dependent on being held subject to a majority of members voting on a motion for removal and the obligation for the Speaker to be removed.

There is, essentially, a third provision, which sets out the conduct in the ballot in accordance with procedures as determined by the house, and of course that is a matter always for the house as to how they conduct their procedures. I see foreshadowed a number of amendments which also relate to a relevant election period, which I have only just received today. They purport apparently to deal with the opportunity for the proroguing of parliament during a newly defined relevant election period. Obviously, we will wait until the committee stage to identify how that is proposed to be enumerated and, indeed, how it is to be applied.

It is certainly unusual, but it is not unknown of course, for legislation to be passed on occasion when there is some merit in having some urgency. On hearing the speaker, I think her urgency is to capitalise on a change of political allegiance in relation to the house and want to take advantage of that. Again, that is the prerogative of the parliament. She also indicates that she wishes to pursue, under the same banner of the new flavour of the house, the statutory implementation of a code of conduct.

It is not the subject, on my quick viewing of this bill, that includes that at this point, but I remind members of the house that there is a joint parliamentary committee that is undertaking work in relation to a code of conduct. Of course, it is up to the member to decide whether she wants to pursue something without considering any recommendation of that committee and the work that has been undertaken by both houses of parliament for her code of conduct to be endorsed.

I would simply say, in that regard, which I think also applies to this house, that if there is to be a code of conduct for MPs, or if there is to be a new regime of independent speaker, then perhaps it also should apply to the President in the Legislative Council. I am not advocating for it; I just make the point that both houses are going to have to consider this matter and I think it is not necessarily one which suggests it should be dealt with with so much urgency.

On quick assessment, it appears we only need a simple majority vote to make these changes, but it is one where I think haste is certainly unusual, particularly as this house already has the capacity to make decisions in relation to the position of the office of Speaker. We do not need to have a change to the state constitution to deal with those matters if for some reason someone considers themselves to be a worthy candidate, other than you, sir—and I cannot think of anyone in the parliament who would be. But, nevertheless, that is a matter which I think has carried out the role in an exemplary manner.

There is no suggestion from the Speaker, at this point anyway, that there has been the introduction of this opportunity to produce this legislation because of some disquiet towards your role and I would certainly hope it had not been, because I would not endorse it. Nevertheless, it is a body of work which I think needs to have some further consideration and therefore I will not be indicating any support to this bill. I will listen with interest to the matters raised as to the basis of the amendments and how they fit in with this legislation. It seems to follow a different issue, but I am happy to have a look at that as we go through, of course.