1st August 2019
Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) (15:48): I feel compelled to contribute to this debate. Generally, I support the recommendations. I acknowledge everyone who sat around the committee table during a substantial number of meetings. I am not sure how many meetings there were, but many of us made a significant effort to get to those meetings or to participate by phone. It was a fairly courageous attempt to reform the way this Chamber operates and to improve the quality of debate in whatever way we can. There is no doubt that this House will continue to have robust debates. We can build in a whole host of mechanisms to try to soften the robustness of debate and to take out what some might call the nastier vitriol—as mentioned in Standing Order 73—but these are well-intentioned reforms. I acknowledge the Leader of the House. I have had a good working relationship with him throughout this process. I believe that the House will benefit from these reforms.
While I have not had the opportunity to confirm every point with every member of the crossbench, I can assure them that their interests have been well served not just by my participation, but also by the intentions of the Government and the Opposition, who have given proper consideration to them. One issue I take the Government to task on—and I know the Leader of the House understands that I support the Opposition on this one measure although not on everything in the press release of the member for Keira—is the public interest debate. Although it was unspoken, it seemed clear that the public interest debate would replace the matter accorded priority [MAP] and therefore would fit into that spot sequentially—what I think we all would have considered to be the appropriate time. I cannot understand why it is being relegated to the 5.00 p.m. position, but I can understand why the Opposition would have some difficulty with that and feel somewhat betrayed on that point.
I am not quite sure how this will play out, but I would support an amendment that moves the public interest debate back into the sequential order so that it follows on in lieu of the MAP and at a similar time. Overall, however, when that is defeated, let's move on, because this will be very substantial reform for this Parliament. It is not about taking away the robust debate people would expect. It is not about hiding from public scrutiny. I believe it was very well intended. The contributions from the Government, the Opposition and the Independents were given very good consideration overall. This one surprises and disappoints me, and I will support the Opposition in relation to it.
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