40 Voting in House of Representatives

 

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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.

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Questions arising in the House of Representatives, other than those arising from decisions referred to in s.50(2)(i), shall be determined by a majority of votes, and each member shall have one vote. A member presiding in the House is entitled to vote on a question put while he or she is presiding, but shall not have a casting vote. When the votes are equal the question shall pass in the negative.

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Questions arising in the House of Representatives, other than those arising from decisions referred to in s.50(2)(i), shall be determined by a majority of votes, and each member shall have one vote. other than that of the Speaker. The Speaker shall not vote unless the numbers are equal, and then he shall have a casting vote.  A member presiding in the House is entitled to vote on a question put while he or she is presiding, but shall not have a casting vote. When the votes are equal the question shall pass in the negative.

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40.1 Presently the section states that questions in the House are determined by majority vote. The section requires amendment to incorporate the proposal that the standing orders of each House of Parliament will in future require that rulings during debates in each House cannot be overturned except by a two-thirds majority: see proposed s.50(2)(i). Accordingly the amendment exempts such questions from the general rule that the majority prevails.
40.2 The section requires further amendment consequent upon the presiding officer in the House being changed from the Speaker to the Governor-General of Parliament. Unlike the position in the Senate (see the current s.23), this does have an impact on who can vote. The Constitution currently deprives the Speaker of his or her right to vote as an ordinary member, then gives the Speaker a casting vote in the event that the votes are equal. The final section of Chapter 5 of the Rationale for the Advancing Democracy model explains why this is undemocratic. It is also quite unnecessary. Accordingly a key part of the amendment is to restore the ordinary right to vote to an ordinary member standing in for the Governor-General. The Governor-General will not be a member of the House - see proposed s.60A(3) - and so will not vote.
40.3 The amendment does not just remove the casting vote of a presiding member - it expressly negates such a vote, for two reasons. Firstly, it allows the drafting of the clause to replicate that of s.23 concerning voting in the Senate. Secondly it ensures that ordinary voters do not misunderstand the position when reading the clause.
40.4 The removal of the Speaker’s casting vote means that s.40 should follow s.23 concerning voting in the Senate and provide that when the votes are equal, the question being put is negated.