TONY Abbott is dangling the possibility of parliamentary reform before the independents as he intensifies his courtship to secure their ultimate endorsement for The Lodge.
With several independents having now signalled their interest in an overhaul of parliamentary procedure, the Liberal leader reminded people yesterday that he had made a commitment to reform during the election campaign.
”During the campaign I proposed time limits on ministerial answers,” said Mr Abbott.
”I proposed time limits on questions, and I’ve got to say that I’ve been on the record over the years supporting a speaker who is independent of governments, so these are commitments that I feel very deeply.
”I think it is very important that our Parliament be a place for genuine questions and genuine answers and genuine debate and I regret the fact that, particularly over the last three years, that hasn’t been the case.”
Mr Abbott – a man famous for his combative parliamentary style – also indicated he would support a more consensual mode of politics.
Independent MP Tony Windsor has said that he would like an overhaul of the committee system and more scope for private members’ bills to be debated and proceed to a vote.
Yesterday, the member for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott, expressed similar sentiments.
”Private members’ bills do not get voted on in the Australian Parliament – they do in most state houses – and so people in electorates don’t get the opportunity to have their local member bring in legislation that they think is important to their area and to their nation and to have that tested on the floor of the House,” Mr Oakeshott told reporters.
”I think that’s a blight on our system and it demonstrates where the authority lies. The authority lies in the Australian political system with the executive, not with the parliament, and if this is a moment in time where we can pull some of that back.”
On Monday night on the ABC, former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull argued reform needed to also encompass a radical overhaul of campaign finance rules.
”Now, my view is that we should ban all donations to political parties other than from individuals who are on the electoral roll