The Hon. C. BONAROS (15:01): Mr President, I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of you regarding the Legislative Council Standing Orders Committee.
The Hon. C. BONAROS: As I understand it, this chamber’s Standing Orders Committee has not met during this session of parliament; indeed, it has not met for many years and the Legislative Council standing orders have not changed since last century, in 1999. Conversely, the House of Assembly Standing Orders Committee has met at least five times in this session of parliament and tabled a report during this time.
The Legislative Council Standing Orders Committee has not met during this session, despite several requests to do so from myself and, as I understand it, from others. For example, I wrote to the secretary of the Legislative Council Standing Orders Committee in August of this year requesting the committee meet to review standing order 445 regarding breastfeeding and bottle feeding of infants in the chamber. Recently, I wrote to you, Mr President, seeking a meeting of the same committee to consider the issue of co-sponsored motions and bills, which are provided for in the standing orders of other Australian parliaments, but not ours.
On 8 May 2018, the Treasurer stated in the chamber, and I quote:
The other point I should put on the public record is that, in the discussions I have had with the Leader of the Opposition and other crossbench members, I have indicated two things. One is I hope, Mr President, with your concurrence, that the Standing Orders Committee will undertake a body of work in terms of the standing orders of the Legislative Council.
We have made one significant amendment…in appointing for the very first time a prominent member of the crossbench to the Standing Orders Committee to provide his input into the issue of sensible amendment of standing orders. I have had informal discussions with members as to how that process might work. Again, Mr President, it will be an issue for discussion with yourself as a member of that particular committee.
In August 2018, the Treasurer stated:
I have had a brief conversation a week or so ago with the Leader of the Opposition that I would hope during the break we might be able to convene a meeting of the standing orders committee…I am sure there are potentially a small number of issues upon which everyone could agree that we might be able to proceed with by way of amending the standing orders. Perhaps we could do the more substantive and difficult issues over a period of time.
On 28 November 2018, the Minister for Human Services stated during a meeting of the Joint Committee on the 125th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage that, and I quote:
We will also seek that the Standing Orders Committee, in collaboration with the clerks, undertakes a review of standing orders for gender neutrality and to ensure that orders do not impede women from entering political life.
They are just a few examples. My questions to you, Mr President, are:
1. How many outstanding requests exist for the Legislative Council Standing Orders Committee to meet?
2. Why has the Legislative Council Standing Orders Committee not met, despite requests to do so?
3. When will the Legislative Council Standing Orders Committee meet?
The PRESIDENT (15:04): The Hon. Ms Bonaros, I will take that question on notice and endeavour to provide a response to the council tomorrow.