This is a list to be updated as we hear of new Parliamentary reform promises and suggestions from Parliamentarians and other political players.

Christopher Pyne on time limits on answers, an independent speaker and a guarantee that private member’s bills would be voted on

Wednesday 25th August 2010 ABC World Today

But Christopher Pyne, the Opposition’s manager of business in the House of Representatives has put together a package of reforms that he wants. He spoke to the Radio News political correspondent Louise Yaxley about the reforms he wants. CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well Tony Abbott has always been an advocate of parliamentary reform as have I. We are both 17-year veterans of the House of Representatives and there is no doubt that Question Time has become high farce under the Labor Party so we would like to use this opportunity of a hung parliament to genuinely reform the way the Parliament operates, give a bigger role for private members business and private members bills and ensure they are voted on, establish a parliamentary budget office, ensure that there is a House Representatives estimates hearings process like the Senate, have a genuinely independent speaker and make Question Time something meaningful both for constituency business by having a separate constituency Question Time on a Monday afternoon as well as ensuring that answers to questions are relevant and timely. LOUISE YAXLEY: The speaker could be the key to that. How would you handle the Speaker’s position? CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well the speaker’s role is vitally important. Tony Abbott and I have always believed that we should have a truly independent speaker and we would consider continuing with Harry Jenkins as speaker should he wish to do so. LOUISE YAXLEY: And are you thinking of doing that along the British model where he would then not have someone from the Coalition contesting his seat? CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, that is a good model. I haven’t thought about that in detail and neither has the Coalition and this is something we are considering at the moment as opposed to making a hard and fast decisions about it. LOUISE YAXLEY: What would you say to people who point out that when the Coalition was in government for nearly 12 years that these sorts of changes weren’t made then? CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, that was in the past and I would say that they should have been made then but this is an opportunity to make them now.

Harry Jenkins (Federal Speaker) stays silent

Wednesday 25th August 2010 ABC News Online

Labor’s Harry Jenkins has refused to comment on the Coalition’s suggestion that he could stay as speaker if Tony Abbott becomes prime minister.

Anthony Albanese on Parliamentary reforms in general

Wednesday 25th August 2010 ABC World Today

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, it was about lifting the status of private members business. It was about having an increased time and scope for grievance debate, for private members bills and for private members motions and certainly we introduced a range of other reforms which have increased the accountability including establishing a Petitions Committee so that now you actually have a government response to petitions which are tabled in the Parliament and of course, the whole format of community cabinets has been aimed at increasing that contact between the community and the Government. LYNDAL CURTIS: You also, before you were elected in 2007 put together a package of reforms that included some substantial reform of Question Time including limits to answers. There are proposals that you did not implement in government. Are you coming late to this party? ANTHONY ALBANESE: Not at all. We are prepared to consider these issues given the hostility though that the reforms that we did introduce were met with by the Coalition, it is good to see they have had a change of heart. But certainly we are prepared to consider issues of running Question Time more effectively. It is clear that you can always do better but, and certainly the change in tone of Tony Abbott is welcomed.

Rob Oakeshott on “Mix N Match” government 

Tuesday 24 August, 2010 ABC Newsand The World Today

Today the New South Wales independent told the ABC that a majority of 76 would not be enough to ensure stable government in the event of a by-election. He said the two parties should consider putting together a ruling coalition which could, for example, include former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull sitting in a cabinet headed by Julia Gillard. “We need to get a buffer going in my view,” he said. “It is a cheeky option, and it’s not for me to pick cabinets, [but] Malcolm Turnbull in a Julia Gillard government or Kevin Rudd as foreign minister in a Tony Abbott government?” “Here is a moment when we can explore the edges and explore outside the box.”

Rob Oakeshott on Parliamentary consultation before legislation

Tuesday 24 August, 2010 ABC Radio AM

LYNDAL CURTIS: And possibly engaging the parties together ahead of the legislation going into Parliament. ROB OAKESHOTT: Oh wouldn’t it be wonderful! In fact wouldn’t it be wonderful to engage members of Parliament in a way before legislation actually hits the floor of the Parliament and therefore having an informed debate and engaging the community in informed debate. But the issue, and an example of that is the mining tax issue, none of us, I think there’s only about three or four members of Parliament who truly would know the detail of, you know, the champagne popping moment of when Twiggy Forrest and Julia Gillard cut a deal. The Parliament has not seen anything on this issue and it’s been one of the hot topics of the election campaign. So I don’t know what everyone’s been saying at all their meet the candidates nights because no one’s really been involved in that process at all. And as an example of the potential of consensus politics if the Parliament was engaged, all members of Parliament was engaged, we wouldn’t have ended up in this situation because we would have been focused on a Henry Tax Review, and all the recommendations, and a recommendation about turning a state royalty system into a resource rent tax which had the support at that time, as I understand, of the mining industry. It shouldn’t have ended up the way it did and it’s an example of where the current system is affecting policy outcomes to the detriment of the nation.

Heather Ridout on appointing a mediator to create bipartisanship on contentious policy issues

Tuesday 24 August, 2010 ABC Radio Breakfast

I’ve been advocating for a number of years that we should go back to having a bipartisan approach to immigration and particularly this issue of asylum seekers. I thought that the tawdry debate that has been going on around this issue for the last few years has been really very inadequate. What we are proposing is that once the election is settled and we have some clarity about the future direction, that the government of the day in discussion with the other major parties appoint an independent mediator, an expert person, independent person, a person of some stature like a James Wolfensohn, or a judge, a high court judge an ex judge, to come together to try and mediate a shared policy that can take Australia forward. Because if we are going to have one more election fought around these issues  with people clearly uncomfortable articulating a range of positions I think it would be very –  we would miss a leadership opportunity.

John Menadue on improved information resources for Parliamentarians 

Tuesday 24 August, 2010 ABC “The Drum”

With the balance of power in the House of Representatives likely to be held by independents, now is the time to build critical information flows, analysis and independent policy advice to the parliament. This can be done by substantially expanding the resources, both quantity and quality, available to members of parliament through parliamentary committees and the parliamentary library. By far the best information I have read on asylum seekers in recent days has come not from the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and his department, but from the Australian Parliamentary Library. The Executive, through its domination of parliament, has monopolised information flow and policy advice. It is crippling our parliamentary system and stifling good policy. The resources of the Australian public service are directed almost exclusively to serving the Executive and not the public through the Parliament. The result is an information deficit in the community and little independent advice to challenge the all-powerful executive.

John Menadue on lobbying

Tuesday 24 August, 2010 ABC “The Drum”

The traditional governance arrangement of minister and department must also be reviewed. Ministers are struggling to fend off the special interests – polluters, miners and the AMA – with their 37 full-time lobbyists in Canberra for every Cabinet minister. Many government operations are highly complex, large and technical. They would be better administered through independent, professional and statutory authorities with governments providing the policies and principles to guide their operations. By default, statutory authorities must make public their advice and findings. The Reserve Bank is a good model to consider. It is independent, professional and largely immune to pressure from special interests. It informs and educates the community. Other authorities, such as Medicare and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, should be instructed to facilitate public discussion of important health issues and help get us away from the current debates that are dominated by a two-way discussion between the minister and special interests.

Ted Mack on “Above the line” Senate voting

Tuesday 24 August, 2010 ABC Radio Breakfast

There’s not another country in the world that would have a system where nobody who is voting knows where their vote goes. So Electoral Reform is probably pretty high. And its fairly simple to do because its the one good thing that the NSW Government has done in recent years, so they’ve got a model to follow

Cheryl Kernot on reforms to Question time

Tuesday 24 August, 2010 ABC Radio Breakfast

I think in order to restore some respect for question time we should get rid of Dorothy Dixers. I mean the Government’s got plenty of opportunity to put its message out. I think we should have a limit on answers as in question time so that Ministers are forced to focus and can’t indulge in all that personal beating around the head that they do. I think we should have supplementary questions because I think that that gives us a chance of actually having a bit of debate backwards and forwards. I think we should change the standing orders on relevance and misleading so that answers can’t be used for quite party political purposes.

Malcolm Turnbull on Campaign Finance

Monday 23 August, 2010 ABC TV QANDA

MALCOLM TURNBULL: …I have to say is not part of Liberal Party policy at this stage but it ought to be. We need to have absolutely comprehensive root and branch campaign finance reform. Now, my view is that we should ban all donations to political parties other than from individuals who are on the electoral roll, that’s to say human beings who are on the electoral roll, and with an annual cap, and I don’t particularly care whether that cap it $1000 or $5000, but we should get rid of unions, we should get rid of corporations, we should get rid of huge donations, level the playing field. If you have to increase public funding, that might be part of the price you’ve got to pay but that would restore a great deal of integrity and public confidence in our political system.


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