Members’ Votes Disallowance

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:07): Under standing order 107, I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing my question to you, Mr President, seeking a ruling on the matter of possible disallowance of members’ votes under standing orders 225, 362 and 379 for undeclared pecuniary or personal interests, and the eligibility to sit on a committee where a declared or undeclared pecuniary interest exists.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Mr President, I draw your attention to standing order 225 which states:

No Member shall be entitled to a vote upon any question in which the Member has a direct pecuniary interest not held in common with the rest of the subjects of the Crown, and the vote of any Member so interested may, on Motion, be disallowed by the Council; but this Order shall not apply to Motions or Public Bills which involve questions of State policy.

Further, standing order 362 states:

Any Question of Personal Interest as affecting a Member’s vote, arising in the Committee, shall be determined by the Committee.

Finally, standing order 379 states:

No Member shall sit on a Committee who has a direct pecuniary interest in the inquiry before such Committee, not held in common with the rest of the subjects of the Crown and any question of interest arising in Committee may be determined by the Committee.

I know that shortly the council will debate a bill regarding restructuring of the state’s land tax arrangements and that, according to the Members’ Register of Interests, certain members of this council may well have a pecuniary interest in the outcome of that bill and that they may well not hold this in common with other members, other subjects of the Crown.

Should the council establish a select committee to inquire into this bill, I note also that standing order 379 states that no member with a direct pecuniary interest in the bill shall sit on such a committee and that there is no corresponding reference to a state policy overruling this. I am mindful that these matters have been well canvassed in other commonwealth Westminster system parliaments, most notably in the Australian federal parliament where these matters, while under their standing orders could see those members’ votes disallowed, in fact require that the members declare their pecuniary or personal interests when engaging in the debate.

I ask the President to rule as to which way this council will manage a member with an undeclared pecuniary interest, or a declared pecuniary interest, from taking part in this debate and any potential committee, and will the President counsel the council to declare pecuniary or personal interests in the land tax or any other bill?

The PRESIDENT (15:09): Thank you for your question. Given the complexity of some of the issues on which you have sought a ruling, I will take that on notice and endeavour to give you a response tomorrow, which will allow me to hit the books.

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