Bronwyn Bishop will have more power over parliament
Bronwyn Bishop will have more power over parliament GREG MILLER

Sit down and shut up - new rules for parliament

THE Federal Government has made several changes to the way the 44th Parliament will work, removing supplementary questions from debate, which Leader of House Christopher Pyne said were abused by Labor.

Mr Pyne made a raft of changes to parliamentary process on Wednesday, including moves crossbenchers and Labor figures have said will give Speaker Bronwyn Bishop more power in the House.

The removal of supplementary questions will see Question Time questions limited to 30 seconds and those answering to be given three minutes to speak.

Other changes include shorter overall sitting days, shorter maximum times to speak, and giving the Speaker more powers regarding disorderly conduct.

The government has also limited Matters of Public Importance to one hour - a time which, apart from Question Time, gives the Opposition a key opportunity to attack the government through debate.

A raft of new crossbenchers, including Clive Palmer, will also not be allowed to sit on the all-seeing selection committee, which helps determine the parliamentary agenda.

But Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke, who has had a fiery day, said a promise for time for "backbenchers questions" was not included in the changes, claiming the government had reneged on an election promise.

He also said the changes were a sign that "the culture of secrecy" had reached the floor of the parliament.

A further change will see Speaker Bronwyn Bishop allowed to attend Liberal Party room meetings - meetings former Speaker Harry Jenkins used to recuse himself from in the interest of balance.

Mrs Bishop said yesterday she would not participate in any discussions of parliamentary tactics, but as a member of parliamentary wing of the Liberal Party, retained her right to attend the meetings.

EARLIER: THE first day of official business for the 44th Parliament has opened with a fiery debate sparked by Leader of the House Christopher Pyne calling the Opposition Leader "Electricity Bill".

Despite promises from Prime Minister Tony Abbott the new government would lift the tone of political debate; the new parliament seems very similar to the previous one.

Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke hit out at Mr Pyne's "childishness" and "name-calling", appealing to Speaker Bronwyn Bishop to confirm the term was unparliamentary.

Under the House rules, MPs must be referred to by their official title, rather than personal names or nicknames attributed by others.

But the Liberal Speaker, on her first full day governing the chamber, backed Mr Pyne, saying the term was merely a "description", and that she did not find it unparliamentary.

Quick to his feet, Mr Burke called an unprecedented censure motion on the Speaker, for not defending the rules, saying the term was "cheap schoolyard name-calling".

He said Mr Abbott had assured the House such behaviour would not happen, saying MPs using such descriptors "shouldn't get away with it".

Ultimately, the censure motion was defeated by the government's majority in the chamber, before Mrs Bishop described Mr Burke's appeal "a display of a new energetic nature".

Sittings continue.