Speaker Oakeshott

You’ll forgive (I hope) my slight obsession with the agreement to pair the Speaker of the House of Representatives, but I couldn’t let today’s announcement that Rob Oakeshott wants to be Speaker of the House go by without comment.

I would put Oakeshott as last among the current crop of 150 members of the House as being capable of being Speaker. He is ponderous, self indulgent, egotistical, intellectually challenged and verbose. And unfaithful to his electorate.

Oakeshott was quoted on the ABC website as saying

Essentially establishing the status of pairing rights and whether it is based on goodwill between all parties or whether it can be codified at a higher level. This is a tight Parliament and there will be at various times tricks played and we’ve just got to make sure we manage that.

What does he mean by saying that pairing of the Speaker should be ‘codified’  beyond the signed agreement?  Surely this would lend weight to my argument that the pairing was Constitutionally dubious?

And how would this play out?

Since Oakeshott proclaims to be an Independent, he would need, on every division, to decide which side he supported (the Coalition or Labor) and then get a person from the other side to pair with him.

Let’s say that the Government proposes some Bill which the Opposition doesn’t support and Oakeshott also doesn’t support. Then there would be in the chamber 75 people in support of the Bill (assuming the other independents and the Green support Labor) and 74 plus Oakeshott against.

Then Labor would have to pair with Oakeshott, bringing the vote to 74 – 74. And of course Oakeshott gets a casting vote.

Alternatively, if the Government proposes a Bill which the Opposition doesn’t support and Oakeshott does support. Then there would be in the chamber 76 people in support (including Oakeshott) and 74 against. Then the Coalition would need to pair resulting in a vote of 75 – 73 and the Bill passes.

So Oakeshott can hold the Government to ransom even more. The agreement would make the Speaker even more political – when the Speaker is supposed to be apolitical.

—————-

UPDATE

I checked the practice in a number of other countries that have a Westminster system of Government. In all cases the Speaker is not paired – he or she does not have a deliberative vote but does have a casting vote. In the UK, the Speaker uses his casting vote according to the Speaker Denison’s Rule (which is close, but not exactly, to voting for the status quo).

Pairing of the Speaker’s vote is anathema to an independent speaker.

If the Speaker wishes to discuss a particular bill (for example on something concerning his or her constituency), he or she simply needs to relinquish the Chair to the Deputy Speaker and sit in the chamber as an MP. Following discussion and vote, the Speaker then resumes the Chair.

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62 Responses to Speaker Oakeshott

  1. C.L.

    This pairing stunt – designed to create a false and unconstitutional ‘stability’ – is an unlawful outrage. The framers of the Constitution did indeed consider what should happen if divisions were so close as to require resolution via a casting vote. They nevertheless did not stipulate pairing. Abbott and Pyne need to pursue this vigorously.

  2. pablo

    Someone who is “intellectually challenged” could not have thought up a more brilliant scheme to further the will of the people JS. And more to the immediate point Oakeshott’s nomination (pending – who dares wins) will carry a ‘make my day’ ultimatum. It’s a toss up whether or not both major parties will put forward an Oakeshott nomination or…no one does.

  3. Pedro the Ignorant

    If Oakeshitt is appointed Speaker, it will be the final triumphal cackle of a Government gone completely and utterly batshit crazy.

    Collect the feathers and start warming the tar pot.

  4. Sid Vicious

    I think Rod has stumbled on a patch of Magic Mushrooms growing on the outskirts of Port Macquarie.

  5. Arnost

    I understood that the Speaker when exercising his/her casting vote should by convention vote to maintain the status quo – i.e. always defeating any motions for change… I’m guessing this ain’ likely?

  6. Arnost

    And I’m sure I heard him say something about introducing the same convention as in the UK where the Speaker seat is uncontested at the next election – which of course is about the only way now that he’d be returned…

  7. JC

    Yea, Arnost. He’s trying that on too. i want to know the names of the people voting for him next time as he’s the biggest moron to ever have set foot in parliament. And he’s such a dickhead.

    Samuel.. My understanding would be that the opposition would have always have to provide a pair if Oakenhsitt was made speaker.

  8. Sinclair Davidson

    My friends in Canberra tell me the speaker pairing isn’t unconstitutional – just dumb.

    Oakshott strikes me as an office-seeker. He sought office in NSW, then a cabinet post, now the speaker role. Office-seekers are usually unfit for office.

  9. JC

    ……..Office-seekers are usually unfit for office.”

    and possibly also unfit for full citizenship like this fell blown creep.

  10. Timothy Can

    The idea that an agreement between political parties is unconstitutional is absurd. Parties can agree not to vote whenever they like. The consitition doesn’t stipulate pairing anyone, so I suppose CL thinks that makes the pairing agreements that have been around for decades unconstitutional.

    The major parties would be mad to make Oakshott speaker, although Labor has an electoral incentive to big him up.

  11. JC

    It’s not in the Libs interest to allow him to be speaker anyway. If pairing was agreed to there could be, however limited, some chance that Oakehshitt my not vote with the government and therefore it would be a far better idea for the coalition to vote against Oakenshitt as Speaker.

    Let him vote for himself if he needs to and have Windsor also claim that vote too.

  12. Samuel J

    JC – but how can he claim to be an independent if the Coalition always provides a pair? He has only promised to vote with the Gillard Government on supply and confidence motions, which leaves a lot of Bills where his vote presumably could go one way or the other. When you read the document it says:

    “If the Speaker is drawn from a political party then the Deputy Speaker will be drawn from an alternate political party and both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker will:

    • abstain from attending their respective party rooms; and
    • when in the Chair, be paired for all divisions.

    If the Speaker is non-aligned, then the same pairing arrangements will apply. ”

    So what is the “alternative political party” for an independent?

    Sinc – I’m not sure about the Constitutionality (although if it is “codified” that would seem to make it more likely to be unconstitutional) but you’re right about office seekers.

  13. Samuel J

    On the constitutionality or otherwise, it is not relevant that pairing is a practice for MPs other than the Speaker. That’s because section 40 of the Constitution explicitly provides that the Speaker does not have a deliberative vote but does have a casting vote. Who knows how a case would be taken to the High Court as to the Constitutionality and if so how it would rule. But there are plenty examples in law where informal (and formal) agreements between parties which seek to defeat (or sidestep) a regulation are deemed illegal.

    The effect of the pairing is to give the Speaker an effective deliberative vote, while still retaining the casting vote.

  14. Infidel Tiger

    I have heard many slang terms for the penis, but “office-seeker” is a first.

  15. C.L.

    The consitition doesn’t stipulate pairing anyone, so I suppose CL thinks that makes the pairing agreements that have been around for decades unconstitutional.

    None of which involved the Speaker, the man with the casting vote.

    40. Questions arising in the House of Representatives shall be determined by a majority of votes other than that of the Speaker. The Speaker shall not vote unless the numbers are equal, and then he shall have a casting vote.

    It doesn’t say anything about one member of one side of that divide being taken out via pairing.

  16. C.L.

    The cheek of this dickhead is epic. He admitted that one reason he backed Labor is that Abbott would likely win a fresh election. He ignored the wishes of his constituency – a massive majority of which loathe the Labor Party. He leveraged a non early election and pairing deal to ensure the Parliament survives – so as to lengthen his time in the sun – and now he wants a codified guarantee that he won’t face election again. It’s a freaking miracle he isn’t lynched.

  17. JC

    Fme… if it’s ever a quiet day the Cat should always post a thread about this dropkick, as its guaranteed to get the heart rate up to fight or flight level for any of the regulars.

    He is the most despicable individual on this island continent at the moment and that even includes trawling through the prison system.

  18. THR

    He ignored the wishes of his constituency – a massive majority of which loathe the Labor Party.

    In fairness to Oakshott, as part of his epic harangue the other week, he advised that he believed that his electorate was nowhere near as conservative as all that. There may be some truth to that statement, since it doesn’t look like the guy was running on some standard right-wing platform, to say the least.

  19. JC

    It’s a pretty conservative electorate, THR. I couldn’t see that electorate breaking fro labor and if his vote was split down the middle the coalition would have romped it in.

  20. THR

    I don’t know the Oakshott neighbourhood. You may well be right. Some of these electorate hold are sick to death of the Coalition as well, however, which is precisely how the independents get in.

  21. JC

    well indep means exactly that theoretically so we have no basis to suggest the split shouldn’t be down the middle and in fact is probably being to generous. The split should be as the two or three major parties ended up with in terms of votes proportionally.

    Either way one looks at it, the coalition would have romped it in.

  22. Arnost

    Vaile won Lyne comfortably with 52.3% of the primary vote with the final count after preferences being National 58.6% Labor 41.4%.

    So it would “normally” be a safe seat for the Nationals – i.e. In 2004 the result after preferences we’d National 63.0% Labor 38.8%

  23. The firestorm of emails unleashed on Oakeshott so far will pale into insignificance when compared to the new campaign. Likewise a tsunami of polite but firm emails is being sent to the Coalition politicians to confirm that many Australians don’t want Oakeshott as speaker; and if he finagles his way to that position we do not condone any form of pairing convention for him.

    This is an unusual and indeed dangerous federal government. It needs to be stymied and eliminated as soon as possible.

    Oakeshott is a careerist thug masquerading as a hippie. He is simply an egomaniac and a carpetbagger.

  24. C.L.

    Oakeshott is a careerist thug masquerading as a hippie. He is simply an egomaniac and a carpetbagger.

    Very accurate description, ATP. I think it’s possible, though, that he’s a hippie masquerading as a careerist.

  25. Peter Patton

    Arnost

    I don’t know if that is a convention, but it does sound highly rational, politically. That is, folks who want something to change bear the onus of persuasion. And therefore a tie is not enough.

  26. Peter Patton

    THR

    CL said they hate the Labor Party. That has nothing to do with whether or not they were “conservative.” You would do well to know that the animosity towards the ALP in this country transcends quaint notions of “conservative” and/or “radical.”

  27. Ev630

    Sinkers – aren’t they ALL office-seekers?

  28. Timothy Can

    CL I’m surprised by your childishness. The constitution is silent on pairing so pairing is not unconsitutional. If you think pairing the speaker is unconsitutional I expect you’ll be rushing to the High Court registry the first time a vote is taken.

  29. C.L.

    Tim, don’t get angry just because you’re ignorant of the issue.

    Breaking news: Christopher Pyne cites Constitution, chides people’s ignorance of it relation to voting and points out that, legally, the Speaker cannot and will not have a pair in most circumstances:

    Independent MP Rob Oakeshott won’t always have his votes counted in parliament if he becomes the House of Representatives speaker, the opposition says.

    Mr Oakeshott confirmed on Wednesday he’d accept the role of speaker if nominated by another MP.

    But the manager of opposition business in the lower house, Christopher Pyne, says the independent’s vote isn’t able to be counted when he is in the chair during divisions.

    “The speaker does not have a deliberative vote, under the constitution the speaker only has a casting vote,” he told ABC Radio on Thursday.

    Earlier this month, Labor, the coalition and Mr Oakeshott agreed to a series of parliamentary reforms, including `pairing’ the speaker for votes – meaning whichever party they belonged to wouldn’t lose a vote when divisions were called.

    But Mr Pyne said pairing was only relevant for the deputy speaker and others that occupied the chair.

    “The issue of pairing only comes up with the deputy speaker and other members of the speakers panel, all of whom have a deliberative vote,” he said.

    “There is no other possible reading of the agreement if you read it in conjunction with the constitution of the country.”

    Mr Pyne made no apologies for some members of parliament potentially being confused about how pairing can work in tandem with the agreed parliamentary reforms.

    “I can’t help it if other members of parliament are confused and don’t understand their constitution and the standing orders and the way parliament has been arranged for 110 years.”

  30. pedro

    Yes, the pairing arrangement is not unconstitutional. But it is dumb for the coalition to agree it. It is hard to imagine a worse candidate for speaker.

  31. C.L.

    Constitutionally, the Speaker has a casting vote only. His non-existent deliberative vote cannot and should not be paired.

  32. dover_beach

    CL may be right; you can’t ‘pair’ a casting vote, for the obvious reason, and he lacks a deliberative vote so there is nothing to be ‘paired’.

  33. I was under the impression that Libs didn’t agree to pairing the speaker… It now seems I may have been wrong – though Pyne still seems to think it doesn’t apply.

    Hopefully they don’t cave to this arsehole.

  34. And yeah – I could see him pushing for the speaker’s seat to be uncontested if he gets the role. The dude has no shame. The man is a complete joke – but I fear the joke is on us.

    http://www.2gb.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7084&Itemid=90

  35. Timothy Can

    CL I’m quite well informed thank you. I won’t debate the matter of constitutionality further with you as you don’t appear amenable to reason on that point. Let’s try politics. You do know the Liberals have already agreed to pairing the Speaker, don’t you? Will they be taking action in the HC against themselves?

  36. dover_beach

    You do know the Liberals have already agreed to pairing the Speaker, don’t you? Will they be taking action in the HC against themselves?

    Yes, but when they agreed to this didn’t they have in mind the idea of pairing a Speaker appointed from the ALP? Again, it makes no sense to ‘pair’ an Independent.

  37. JC

    The libs will eventually cave on this but not before the string out Oakenshitt for something.

  38. C.L.

    Dover, given what Pyne has said, I think it’s likely that the Liberals simply ‘agreed’ because it was moot point anyway. The Speaker’s deliberative vote cannot be paired because he doesn’t have one.

    You do know the Liberals have already agreed to pairing the Speaker, don’t you?

    Tim, Pyne has contextualised the ‘agreement’ in a way that aligns with Samuel’s argument. I’m not confident you’re on top of this subject. You assume, for example, that the Opposition will run off to the High Court. How do you know the government might not want to do so if an important bill is voted down because the Opposition correctly refuses to pair the Speaker? The judges would have the pairing ‘agreement’ in one hand and the Constitution in the other.

    Good luck with that.

  39. dover_beach

    The Speaker’s deliberative vote cannot be paired because he doesn’t have one.

    Which was my first thought; if he lacks a deliberative vote there is simply nothing to pair. People that are arguing for a ‘pairing’ need to answer: why an MP of either party should be stripped of their right to vote in the House during a division when the are not compensated by a right of a casting vote in case of a tie as is the Speaker?

  40. C.L.

    I understand Pyne to have said that they’re not going to pair him on deliberative votes.

  41. dover_beach

    CL, yes, Pyne only talks about pairing when it involves people like the Deputy Speaker, or those in the panel, when standing in on behalf of the Speaker since they have a deliberative vote but no casting vote (again, the Speaker does not have a deliberative vote, only a casting vote, so there is nothing to pair).

  42. C.L.

    Right. So – would the only way around that be to have the Deputy Speaker preside over every division?

    36. Before or during any absence of the Speaker, the House of Representatives may choose a member to perform his duties in his absence.

    But Oakeshott wouldn’t be absent.

  43. dover_beach

    Well, yes, but the ridiculousness of having a Deputy Speaker presiding on behalf of the Speaker when the Speaker is not absent and in fact sitting in the House would be obvious to everyone. It would make the Parliament a laughing stock. Anyway, the Speaker cannot vote on the floor of the House; well, that is my impression of the law on the matter anyway.

    BTW, if it becomes more complicated I’m happy to seek the advice of our constitutional expert, Homer.

  44. Arnost

    This is from the “Agreement”

    The role of the Speaker be independent of Government.
    If the Speaker is drawn from either a Government or Opposition Member then the Deputy Speaker will be drawn from the other side and both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker will:
    * abstain from attending their respective party rooms; and
    * when in the Chair, be paired for all divisions.

    If the Speaker is non-aligned, then the same pairing arrangements will apply.

    http://roboakeshott.com/system/files/draft%20reforms.pdf

    I think that whilst there is nothing in the constitution that prevents any member voluntarily withholding their vote and so “pairing” with a missing member, codifying it as has been done WRT to the Speaker is, as Christopher Pyne said today: “… a potential attempt to abrogate the intention of the constitution and I’m not going to be party to that”.

  45. pedro

    The intention of the constitution is that the Speaker not have a deliberative vote so that the independence of the speaker is supported.

    The pairing of a labor or liberal speaker would not change that. The pairing of Oakeshott would change that because he then has to identify his preference so that the selection of the correct pair is a defacto deliberative vote. That being said, it is not unconstitutional for a member to abstain whatever the reason.

    Oakeshott has essentially admitted the breach of the spirit of the constitution. Pyne should stick to his guns as no fair minded person should support a breach of the spirit of the constitution, especially by an unreconstructed fuckwit like Oakeshott.

  46. C.L.

    “…a breach of the spirit of the constitution…”

    Maybe that is the best way to think of this.

    Pyne seems to have done well on this today.

  47. Sinclair Davidson

    In any event no court would enforce an agreement for an MP to not cast their vote.

  48. Timothy Can

    “Tim, Pyne has contextualised the ‘agreement’ in a way that aligns with Samuel’s argument. I’m not confident you’re on top of this subject. You assume, for example, that the Opposition will run off to the High Court. How do you know the government might not want to do so if an important bill is voted down because the Opposition correctly refuses to pair the Speaker? The judges would have the pairing ‘agreement’ in one hand and the Constitution in the other.”

    CL I did not assume what you claim I assumed. The pairing agreement is not justiciable so the scenario you describe will never be more than fantasy. You are either being disingenuous or you know next to nothing about pairing. Otherwise you would know that pairing agreements have frequently been broken and, when that happens, the vote stands.

    Pyne is merely being slimy, which is to be expected.

    Sinclair Davidson, quite. Nor would they force a member who doesn’t want to vote to vote. Or do you think they would?

  49. Sinclair Davidson

    I have no problem with MPs choosing to abstain but I don’t belive that MPs can be ‘forced’ to abstain. So a voluntary pairing for convenience is appropriate what Oakeshott proposes is not.

  50. C.L.

    Tim, you again repeated your deceitful and dumb point about pairing having been used before, no drama hitherto, bla bla bla.

    WE KNOW, bone head.

    It has NEVER been used in the House of Representatives vis-a-vis a Speaker seeking to have both deliberative and casting powers – as Oakeshott has explicitly stated is his desire. This is plainly at odds with the intent of the Constiution.

    Pyne is constitutionally and historically correct.

    I suspect you now realise this but you can’t back down.

    The sliminess is all Oakeshott’s and Gillard’s. Everyone knows that this is not a ‘reform’ but a self-aggrandising novelty designed to maximise his power and safeguard his 15 minutes of fame – which he hopes to extent to 3 years of fame. Gillard, for her part, is also mendaciously pushing the ‘reform’ slogan when, in reality, she is – of course – seeking to maximise her own dependable party voting bloc. Abbott is perfectly correct to say that Jenkins should continue in a role for which he is experienced, competent and well regarded.

  51. C.L.

    The pairing agreement is not justiciable…

    Parish:

    Sections 35, 36 and 40 of the Commonwealth Constitution reflect and to an extent codify this principle of Speakerly neutrality and, while a limited amount of flexibility may be consistent with that principle (as both House of Commons and Reps practice illustrate), the principle cannot simply be ignored and trashed as Gillard appears to be contemplating to indulge the whims of a spoiled Independent whose support she needs. The problem with that is that she may by so doing force the High Court to make a ruling on the meaning of these sections where a more prudent PM would respect the flexible but real boundaries of unwritten principles on which the Westminster system depends. I completely agree with these comments by the Coalition’s Christopher Pyne:

    But the manager of opposition business in the lower house, Christopher Pyne, says the independent’s vote isn’t able to be counted when he is in the chair during divisions.

    “The Speaker does not have a deliberative vote; under the constitution the Speaker only has a casting vote,” he told ABC Radio.

    This month, Labor, the Coalition and Mr Oakeshott agreed to a series of parliamentary reforms, including “pairing” the Speaker for votes – meaning whichever party the Speaker belonged to would not lose a vote when divisions were called.

    But Mr Pyne said pairing was only relevant for the Deputy Speaker and others who occupied the chair.

    “The issue of pairing only comes up with the Deputy Speaker and other members of the Speaker’s panel, all of whom have a deliberative vote,” he said.

    “There is no other possible reading of the agreement if you read it in conjunction with the constitution of the country.”

    Mr Pyne made no apologies for some members of Parliament potentially being confused about how pairing can work in tandem with the agreed parliamentary reforms.

    “I can’t help it if other members of Parliament are confused and don’t understand their constitution and the standing orders and the way Parliament has been arranged for 110 years.”

  52. .

    Geez C.L. Tim C is on the side of the Angels generally. You’re as hard as JC is on Terje re: gold bugginess.

  53. C.L.

    He said I was being disingenuous – which is to say, that I’m lying – as well as childish, which is totally uncalled for and bizarre in the context of the discussion. No sensible person doubts that Oakeshott’s dishinest novelty on Speaker pairing is unconstitutional – understood either in de jure or ‘spirit of’ terms.

  54. Timothy Can

    “I have no problem with MPs choosing to abstain but I don’t belive that MPs can be ‘forced’ to abstain. So a voluntary pairing for convenience is appropriate what Oakeshott proposes is not.”

    How is what he proposes any less voluntary than the pairing that happens already?

  55. He wouldn’t be my choice of speaker either but he would be fiercely independent unlike the others that have taken up the chair.

    As for pairing of the speaker, we once lead the world on electoral and parliamentary reform with things like the Victorian Paper Ballot, etc, why not again?

  56. Infidel Tiger

    Are you Oakeshott’s PR agent, Senexx?

    Can’t you get him a job as a clown at kid’s parties?

  57. C.L.

    Fiercely independent?

    LOL.

    He admitted he backed Labor because he thought the alternative was Abbott winning a second election.

    And this isn’t “parliamentary reform.” It’s a trick designed to a) maximise Oakeshott’s centrality to the universe; and b) give Gillard an extra – unconstitutional – advantage.

  58. I speak of Independence as in deliberation on legislation and motions not choice of government.

  59. Sinclair Davidson

    The difference relates to choice and coercion.

  60. pedro

    The Westminster idea of speakerly independence necessarily involves not voting unless absolutely necessary. Oakeshott wants the salary and profile and to be a player.

  61. dover_beach

    It’s quite incredible that this has sparked such debate since the matter is really quite simple. The only persons that you would ‘pair’ are the Deputy Speaker or anyone else that sits in chair in the Speaker’s absence since they in fact enjoy a deliberative vote which they lose while acting in the chair. Since the Speaker has no deliberative vote, only a casting vote, there is no reason whatsoever to pair a deliberative vote that does not exist.

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