See the transcript below.
Oakeshott is not qualified for the Speakership:
- He is actively and publicly seeking the position, in contravention to precedent and the history of the Office. Candidates for the Speaker are supposed to be reluctant and dragged to the chair.
- He doesn’t understand the functions of the Speaker – in particular that the Speaker is to be non-partisan and to relinquish his or her rights to debate and vote (the latter enshrined in the Constitution and both long standing conventions in the lower house of Westminster Parliaments.
- His wants the Speaker to be paired – even though the Speaker has no vote to be paired against
- He is a perpetual office seeker – first, with Iemma, then with a ministerial position with Gillard and now with the Speakership.
The transcript below underlines these points.
House or Representatives Practice, 3rd edition, p.179, quoting May’s Parliamentary Practice (21st edition, 1996), p.181 [May’s, first published in 1844, is the standard reference for practice in the House of Commons in the UK]
Confidence in the impartiality of the Speaker is an indispensable condition of the successful working of procedure, and many convention exist which have as their object not only to ensure the impartiality of the Speaker, but also to ensure that his impartiality is generally recognised. He takes no part in debate either in the House or in committee. He votes only when the voices are equal, and then only in accordance with rules which preclude an expression of opinion upon the merits of a question.
Rob Oakeshott with Waleed Aly, ABC 774 Melbourne (Thursday 16/09/10)
Mornings with Waleed Aly, ABC 774 Melbourne with Rob Oakeshott (Independent Member for Lyne)
Thursday, 16th September 2010
I read this morning that you and Tony Windsor have rejected Tony Abbott’s overtures to switch your allegiance to the Coalition – a fairly swift move on his part I would have thought. Does that mean, though, that you’re not listening to any arguments that the Coalition are making about the broadband network and the idea that it should be scrapped?
Not at all… Confidence and supply are important issues for this Parliament to maintain for the full three years. but I thought it was a fantastic sign, yesterday, that Tony Abbott was talking constructive policy, not destructive policy, appointing Malcolm Turnbull…
To destroy the broadband network?
…The motivations are clear, but if this is going to turn into a contest between who can have the best broadband policy then that is great for public policy in Australia. So, I will happily assist Malcolm Turnbull. I think he’s got a good brain. I’m someone, you know, who thinks he’s a good contributor to the Australian parliament and to public policy, so I will happily engage on how the Coalition can have a better broadband policy into the future.
Why do you want to be Speaker?
I’ve said I’ll put my hand up if nominated. The way the parliamentary reforms have been written over the last twenty days, which included both political parties is that there is a pairing arrangement for all members of parliament, and that applies also to Speakers when they’re in the chair. So, for a non-aligned member of parliament, such as myself, what that means for the first time is not only there would be an independent Speaker separate from government, but you don’t lose the equivalence of your voting rights on the floor of the parliament. So, as the arrangement is now when someone is away or there is pairing arrangement between the parties what now would potentially happen, if it was to happen, would be that I would have to inform one of the Whips that I was going to vote the other way so they’ll have to take someone out. So, issue by issue, if well managed, it would work and work fine.
So you would have to say ahead of time which way you’re going to vote and then someone who is going to vote in the opposite direction would not vote?
Would get punted. Yeah, that’s right. And that happens now. I mean in regards to pairing arrangements in the parliament, and it’s got a nuance in the non-aligned members are now able to have pairing arrangements. That’s what’s got the two major parties having kittens at the moment. So, they’re just trying to work all that out.
You’re still forfeiting your vote, aren’t you?
No, well, you’ve got a non-voting right. So, you’ve got the equivalence of a vote; and as well in that position with the casting vote, if it does end up being an equal vote, and that’s going to happen in this parliament, the Speaker’s position has a casting vote. So, as a local member with those two, as well as the ability now through the reform process to participate in private members business, so, all the local members business both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker can participate in, there isn’t, in my view, that loss of the role that a local member can play, and that independence that goes with it.
That means you can’t introduce legislation for instance.
Well, you could… This is the exciting thing in this parliament, because in the past there hasn’t been the ability to vote on private members legislation. Now, in this parliament, there will be that ability. So, that would not be lost in the new parliament, and nor would that voting right, with this pairing arrangement. So, the reason for wanting to do it, in light of all of that, is without losing those local member abilities and values, this is going to be a parliament that going to take some work to keep running for the full three years. And I’m just saying I put my hand up to do my bit if my 149 colleagues were willing to support it.
How does this help your constituents, though?
Well, I think from, you know, on the cost benefit without losing all those local, you know, skills on the floor of the House, the ability to work the floor of the House, to have a day to day working relationship with both Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard in what is going to be a tight parliament, I think, has some advantages all of the time.
Do you have the experience for this given you’ve only been in parliament for two and half years?
This isn’t the job description, but I’ve been in public life for thirteen years. So, look anyone can have a go. I’m just saying I put my hand up and I’ll take the collective view of 149 colleagues if they go elsewhere. I think part of Australian society is the fair-go, and I’m just saying if, you know, because there is a real danger in this parliament that the two parties are unwilling to give up a vote in it being so tight, so my hand’s up. If there’s other hands that go up it becomes a secret ballot, and I think we’re all entitled to that, and win, lose, or draw I’ll accept the outcome.