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Reforms, Norms, and Storms (in a teacup?)


“IT is not unconstitutional for the speaker of the lower house to be paired with an MP from an opposing party, the Commonwealth solicitor-general says.”

Surprise surprise.

However there are caveats.

“First, that it doesn’t result in the speaker having a deliberative vote, and second, that the pairing with a member of the opposing party is voluntary.”


And that was the terms of the original agreement in the first place. Rob Oakeshott sticking his hand up for speaker was never the issue. But his call for a deliberative vote was.

So where does this leave us as of 7.55pm on Wednesday the 22nd of September?

Well, still in the dark. The original intention of the agreement (a voluntary agreement) was just as the soliciter-generals’  ruling and I firmly believe the core of the intent of both major parties.

Likely outlooks? Well it is in the Coalition’s favor to renege on the deal as far as the numbers are concerned. But to do so may increase a level of distrust amongst the very independents they need to try to bring down the government.  However if they agree to the reforms as signed and offer a pair for the speaker, then it means they have to try that little bit harder to do so.

Phillip Ruddock has this afternoon announced he is willing to take on the role. But I am not so sure the ALP will take him up on that. They are in a similar position as the Coalition in that they need to curry favour with the Independents in the house and start a working relationship that will offer them a chance to get their policies through the lower house.

My belief is this:

If Tony Abbott does abide by the intent of the agreement and offers a pair for the speaker, expect to see Harry Jenkins retain his role.

If Tony Abbott does NOT abide by the intent, then quite possibly the ALP will accept Phillip Ruddock’s offer.

In the case of the first, both major numbers will drop to 71 each and the 5 Independents, the WA Nat, and the Green member will need to be swayed by both parties. It reduces the chances that the Coalition has to overthrow the ALP, but the chance is still there. Likewise, both parties can not be seen as appearing as untrustworthy.

In the case of the latter, then the Coalition numbers will be reduced to 71 but the ALP can retain an extra vote. Further, they can take the high ground saying they would have offered a pair, but it was the Coalition that refused to abide by the voluntary option and therefore they are not required to do the same to them. Both parties will take some flack, but the Coalition, we will be told, are the ones that spoiled the agreement… first.


My money is on the first case with Jenkins as Speaker, Ruddock may be deputy, but he is more powerful on the floor so maybe a NAT deputy as the LIBs don’t really think that many of the NATs are worth all that much.


My opinion only!


A. Ghebranious  2010   All Rights Reserved


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