by Linda Straker
- Standing Orders provides for a 5-day notice for special sitting and a 7-day notice for regular sittings
- Tobias Clement said late notice of documents makes it impossible for proper debate
One of the two government backbenchers in the House of Representatives not only expressed his concerns about the continuous violation of the Standing Orders with regards to the delivery of documents for debate, but has served notice that he will soon be in the House from “another standpoint.”
Addressing the House on the Adjournment following Tuesday’s special sitting where the main purpose was to agree with recommendations made to the amendment of the Citizenship by Investment amendment Bill which had already approved in the House, Tobias Clement said that the late notice makes it impossible for proper debate.
The Standing Orders provides for a 5-day notice for special sitting and a 7-day notice for regular sittings.
“If we are given notice a day or two before can we, can that give us adequate time to really prepare and bring justice to this house,” he said, endorsing the sentiments of backbencher Anthony Boatswain who had earlier raised his concern about the same issue. Boatswain called for compliance with the Standing Orders.
“So, from time to time we see bills leaving this House, going to the Senate and then having to come back here,” said Clement who also informed the House that he was at his wits’ end with regards to how his parliamentary and constituency office is administered.
A constituency office is an office for the political party while the parliamentary office is the office for an elected Member of Parliament. Whereas there is an allocation for elected parliamentary offices there is no such allocation for political party constituency offices.
However, following the last general election, most MPs use the same place as a combined office.
Without sharing details, he told the House that he feels compel to raise it because it appears there is no separation of powers with both offices. “I am feeling as if I am at my wits’ end because I do, believe me, Mr Speaker in the separation of powers, you have the executive branch, you have the legislative branch and you have the judiciary, and we are almost there as cheques and balances to each other,” he said.
“I do not know if it’s only St George’s North East office alone, seems like we are going through a very difficult and trying time and it is Mr Speaker that I may have to call this bluff.”
The secretary in Clement’s office was recently fired from the position. “Mr Speaker, I do not know but maybe I should put this house on notice that probably when I come back here on another occasion, it might be from another standpoint and that is really being contemplated by me today,” he said.
“Mr Speaker you know I spent 10 years in Texas and one of the games we learn to play is Texas hold ‘em – a high stakes game of poker. I believe I have come to the point where I might have to call that bluff,” he said as he concluded his remarks on the adjournment.
Clement later told reporters that “in time you will understand,” when asked to clarify what he meant by another standpoint.
Clement, who is the representative for the constituency of St George’s North East was elected to the House following the 2013 and 2018 general elections and on each occasion was not appointed as a Minister of Cabinet. After the 2013 general election he opted to instead continue working as a staff member at St George’s University.