Public lecture looks at the role of the House of Representatives

Published 18 September 2006

Is Australia’s House of Representatives just an executive rubber stamp?

That is one of the questions to be discussed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Honourable David Hawker, and the Clerk of the House, Ian Harris, at a public lecture at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus on Wednesday, September 20.

The Clerk and the Speaker will address the topic ‘Does majority rule in the House of Representatives of today’. They will discuss the origins and early existence of the House of Representatives, where it is today in its own right and in relation to the Senate, and what the future might hold

“Assertions are made from time to time that Australia’s House of Representatives performs few functions other than serving as a rubber stamp for actions of the Executive,” said Mr Hawker, 27th Speaker of the House and Member of Parliament since 1983.

“Concerns have been expressed more recently about the situation following the most recent Federal election, with government majorities in both Houses.”

Mr Hawker will look at the role each House plays and where the centre of political gravity now resides.

Mr Harris, Clerk of the House since 1997 and President of the International Association of Secretaries-General of (national) Parliaments since 2003, will discuss the functions the House performs from a historical perspective. He will focus on the relative influences of the Westminster model on which it was based and the more recent inspiration drawn from the United States.

Mr Hawker and Mr Harris will be welcomed by the Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Clark. The public lecture will be held at 11am, Wednesday, September 20, in room G3.02.

Media contact: Brigid Veale Southern Cross University communications manager 02 66593006 or 0439 680 748.