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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2731..


MR OSBORNE (7.42): Mr Speaker, I, like other members, have had a chance to listen to the audio recording over the break and, having conferred with some members of Hansard, Keith Ryder in particular, I do not think the sound is clear enough to justify this place censuring Mr Quinlan, tempting though that may be.

If he had said "woman", I would expect him to apologise. But I think we need to be fair. I spoke again to the Hansard officer and he said that Mr Quinlan suggested that he could have been about to say "wanker". When you put it in the context of-

Mr Humphries: What did he say?

MR OSBORNE: Exactly, and that is the question, Mr Humphries. Mrs Burke may well believe that he said "woman". I hope he did not. But I have listened to the audio recording and all I could hear was "condescending, bloody wo". Given the facts and given the evidence, I do not think it is clear enough from my perspective to support a censure motion. But Mrs Burke seems convinced that he did use the word "woman". She is now claiming that she heard him say "woman". I suppose I will sit down and listen to what she has to say.

I do not think it is fair that we should base our decision to censure Mr Quinlan on the copy of Hansard when the audio recording is not clear. I would imagine that if Mr Quinlan had said "woman" he would, as he indicated earlier today, withdraw that word. He offered an apology but then withdrew that because he was not sure of what he said.

We can sit here for the next two hours arguing over this point. Mr Speaker, as members on the crossbenches will have to make a decision eventually, I thought I would stand up early in the debate and let you know where I am at. I have listened to the audio recording and, on the basis of what I heard, I am not prepared to support the censure motion.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr Osborne. I advised the Chief Minister that I would comment on a ruling I made. I refer again to the following statement on page 476 of House of Representatives Practice:

Although a charge or reflection upon the character or conduct of a Member may be made by a substantive motion, in expressing that charge or reflection a Member may not use unparliamentary words.

I have ruled, and some of my predecessors have ruled, that the word "lie" is unparliamentary.

MS TUCKER (7.45): The first thing I have to say, of course, is that I do not like sexist language being used in this place. I do not like insults being made. I think we all understand that this is unparliamentary, et cetera, et cetera. It appears that we are being asked to make a judgment about what particular words were used. I was not in the chamber when the exchange took place. I have listened to the audio recording and I have talked to Keith Ryder. He said that as a professional Hansard person he would have rendered what was said as "condescending, bloody-", because it is not clear enough. Also, I see that Mrs Burke said that she thought Mr Quinlan had said "condescending,


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