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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 4 Hansard (27 March) . . Page.. 1258..


The guidance I provide, as requested by the attorney, is that I concur with the advice of the Clerk and conclude that comments made by Mr Seselja and Mr Hanson were in breach of continuing resolution 10.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (10.04), by leave: I move:

That the Speaker's ruling be dissented from.

Mr Speaker, I have moved dissent from your ruling because the Liberal Party does not believe that we should be gagged in this place, and that is effectively what is happening here. Mr Speaker, I note the complete conflict and the conflicted position that you are in on this issue. You are the individual who was, of course, subject to much of the discussions that we had, not in your role as Speaker but as a Greens spokesperson.

I note also, Mr Speaker, that when Mr Hanson and I made these comments, which I stand by, you were in the chamber. The Speaker was actually in the chamber and not an objection was raised. And now we have this situation where the Labor Party and the Greens have decided that somehow we should be gagged from speaking about this issue. Mr Speaker, we disagree with this vehemently. We do not believe that members of parliament should be, for years on end, according to this kind of ruling, gagged from talking about things.

We have a situation where, in the court case in question, the individuals have pleaded guilty. That is a fact. The individuals have pleaded guilty, and we are now being told today, because of sensitivities, it seems, on the other side of politics, that we now should not be able to talk about that; that we should not be able to condemn those kinds of actions; that in the Assembly, the place where speech should be expressed, I am not allowed to say things that I am very happy to say, and have said, outside the chamber. I have not hidden behind parliamentary privilege, as others have. If what I said was in some way prejudicial, I expect that the Supreme Court would hold me in contempt, but they have not. We have received nothing.

We should be free, inside and outside this place, to speak. Particularly, inside this place, we should be free of oppressive restrictions on speech. I think there is a significant conflict of interest here, Mr Speaker, where the very person who was the subject of criticisms which led to these discussions—yourself, Mr Rattenbury—is ruling today that we now cannot speak about this issue. These people have pleaded guilty and we are told, "No, you can't talk about that."Well, why is that? Why is it that we would not be able to speak about that?

I make the further point which I made earlier, Mr Speaker, that in fact you were in the chamber at the time. You did not object to anything we said. In fact, even perhaps the attorney was in the chamber at the time. And certainly—

Mr Corbell: No, I was not actually, Zed.

MR SESELJA: I will correct that. The Attorney-General says he was not but his colleagues were. A number of his colleagues were, and no objection was raised.


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