MLA speaks up for the people: parliament emasculated

The Independent MLA for Sydney, Clover Moore, has spoken out about how in NSW – and throughout Australia, CLA says – executive government is emasculating the rights of the people’s representatives by changing operating rules and procedures. CLA has long called for reform of the federal Senate: perhaps it’s time for a wholesale review of parliamentary procedures in chambers throughout Australia.

MLA speaks up for the people

Ms CLOVER MOORE (Sydney): I want to make a contribution to this debate because I want to comment on the way the Parliament is being run in this term. I would like to congratulate both the Government and the Opposition in supporting the election of an independent Speaker.

Every other way this Parliament is being run I am really very concerned about. I would like to remind members that if the Government does not treat members of Parliament with respect in terms of being able to represent their constituents, if the Government treats members of Parliament with contempt, the Government is treating the constituents of those members with contempt.

I believe that is what we are seeing in this Parliament. I have been an Independent member for a remarkable 20 years. At one stage the member for South Coast, the member for Manly and I held the balance of power. We radically reformed the processes of this place for the benefit of the people of NSW and members of this Parliament.

It is because of that reform process that we have the urgency debate—which is now called the priority debate—10 questions during question time or 45 minutes of questions, estimate committees, legislation committees and, for the first time, the Parliament adjourning at 10.30 p.m. rather than sitting ridiculous hours all through the night. We also ensured that members were given the program on Fridays.

Most people in NSW would think that the Parliament is run like a business and that members know what is happening and that they can plan their lives and prepare worthwhile contributions to the development of legislation and the welfare of the people of NSW. Most sitting days we are lucky if we get the program by the time the House sits.

Prior to the reform charter, ordinary legislation had to lie on the table for five days and, if it was significant legislation, for 28 days. A legislation committee would be established, there would be debate, and discussion with specialists in the relevant topic, and constituents would be consulted.

I admire the contribution made last night by the member for Epping on legislation that has great ramifications for the people of NSW in terms of extending powers that were introduced on a temporary basis after the Cronulla riots. The Minister introduced the legislation and it was on the table for less than five minutes before the debate commenced. And that is significant legislation (Law Enforcement Amendment Bill).

I am appalled about the way this Parliament is being run. A reading of today’s newspapers would not suggest that State Parliament is sitting or that any of this significant legislation is being rushed through. Our constituents will eventually find out what has gone through this House—as limited as that has been this year compared with previous years.

I am appalled about the way the Parliament is being run, that we do not get programs, that we do not know what is happening and that the timetable keeps changing. We plan our lives, work and contributions, but there is no opportunity to participate in the intelligent way that our constituents expect.

The fact that this motion has been moved now is typical of the sloppy management of this Parliament. I am very disappointed and I hope the situation improves next year. This is the worst performance I have seen in 20 years.

from NSW Parliament Hansard, 6 Dec 07

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