The introduction of Petro Georgio’s bills will create the conditions
for a political event which may be unprecedented. This is it: once the
bills have been introduced, any member of Parliament may rise during
question time and direct a question to Petro Georgio himself.

Questions without notice are usually asked only of ministers. However,
the standing orders also allow for questions to be directed to private
members on matters which are the subject of bills introduced in their
name.

According to standing order 99, such questions must relate to “a bill,
motion, or other business of the House or of a committee, for which the member asked is responsible.”

There is nothing that will irk the prime minister more than seeing
Georgio taking the national stage during Question Time. He will speak
without a time limit, the only requirement being that he remains relevant to
the question. Government members will seethe while Georgio commands the
attention of the press gallery and guarantees the issue another day of
positive press.

His performance will be carried live during the Question Time broadcast
shown by both the ABC and Sky News and dominate the nightly news
bulletins.

The full item on Andrew’s blog is available here.

The Greens and Petro’s plans

Christian Kerr writes:

Full marks for thinking to Greens Senator Kerry Nettle for introducing matching legislation
to the Petro Georgiou bills in the Senate yesterday. Next week will be
the last time the Senate sits before the Coalition gets the numbers.
The Greens, the Opposition, the Dems and the crossbenchers may as well
enjoy themselves while they can.

The Greens move is important
for two symbolic reasons – it may permit a debate on bills and it may
lead to a division where Senators will have to show where they line up
on the issue. The legislation in itself isn’t so potent – it doesn’t
come from a government MP – but with Victorian Liberal right winger
Judith Troeth indicating earlier in the week she would support the
Georgiou bills, it still packs a punch.

Margo Kingston’s Webdiary is
carrying a brief from the Greens on their plans for next week. The last
few days before Parliament rises in the Senate can be long, dramatic
and emotional – particularly when Senators are bidding farewell and
making their valedictory speeches. If these extracts are anything to go
by, these coming few will be stunners:

WHEN WILL THE GREENS BE ABLE TO HAVE THE “PETRO BILLS” DEBATED IN THE SENATE?

The
Greens will wait to see whether Petro can have his bills debated in the
House of Representatives. If he cannot, and it looks like this is the
most likely outcome, then they will move to have the bills debated in
the Senate.

The normal time for private members legislation is
on Thursday afternoon but because the Senate is at the end of its
session and there are a lot of government bills to get through this
time slot for Private Member’s Bills has been axed for next week. In
any case the need for this debate is urgent and The Greens will seek to
have the bills debated as soon as possible.

To do this they will
move to “suspend standing orders” in order to have the agenda of the
Senate interrupted and have the bills debated there and then.

WILL THIS MEAN THAT THE DEBATE CAN BE FRUSTRATED BY LOSING THIS PROCEDURAL MOTION?

The
Greens are optimistic based on ongoing negotiations that the ALP,
Democrats and at least two independents will support the motion to
suspend standing orders and so will have the majority required to bring
the debate on. If however this majority is not achieved then there will
be a half hour debate on the procedural motion which gives at least six
speakers the opportunity to participate.

It’s more likely that the numbers will support a debate and so the Senate could debate the bills on Monday.

WILL THERE BE A VOTE?

At
the conclusion of the debate the presiding officer will “put the
question” inviting a vote on the bills. Assuming that at least two
people say NO to passing the bills then the “bells will ring” and their
will be a “division” or vote. At this stage we will see if any
Coalition senators will cross the floor to vote to support a more
compassionate approach to asylum seekers…