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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 3 Hansard (22 March) . .

Page.. 907..


I note that, in the history of this place, in terms of words that have been asked to be withdrawn, when the matter relates to particular suggestions of hands in pockets, having hands in someone's pocket or trousering things, it has been a very clear imputation. I would challenge anyone in this place, if that accusation was made of them, to not react in the way I did, to not take offence, Madam Speaker.

This whole issue could be addressed in a quite straightforward manner if Mr Hanson would simply withdraw that unparliamentary allegation. They think that is unreasonable. I think that if he had said it in this place he would have withdrawn it. He would have been asked to withdraw it by the Speaker and he would have withdrawn it.

The substantive issue we have in terms of the standing orders now is what happens in this circumstance, when there is no one to appeal to, when there is no Speaker, because the Speaker or the chair of the committee has made the offensive statement that a member seeks to be withdrawn. The standing orders offer no resolution and no way forward for a member, or indeed any witness before an Assembly committee, who feels that the line of questioning or the nature of questions or personal reflections is unparliamentary. There is no way forward. There is no way to resolve that other than to bring them into this chamber, which is exactly what I said in that hearing would be my only course of action.

It is very clear, Madam Speaker, that I have no power other than as a member of this place in relation to who chairs Assembly committees. It is open to any member of this place to bring forward a resolution in relation to the chairing of a committee or a substantive resolution before this chamber in relation to the behaviour of an individual. That is open to them and that is obviously the context in which matters can be pursued.

Standing order 117, when it relates to rules for all questions, says that questions shall not contain imputations. It is very clear from what Mr Hanson said, and repeated on multiple occasions, that this was not just a one-off, casual slip. It was a direct and continuous line of imputation that I was trousering taxpayers' money. That is what it was. That was exactly what it was designed to do, and it was repeated time after time. I corrected him four times and asked that he withdraw on 13 occasions—13 occasions.

As I say, if that were to occur in this place, in this chamber, the matter would have been resolved. My only option, and indeed the only option for anyone appearing as a witness before a committee where the committee chair undertakes or says something that they view as a breach of the standing orders, is to bring it back into this place. It is good that today we can debate this issue. I think the Assembly should not only give very serious consideration to a review of standing orders in relation to how matters like this should be dealt with but also give serious consideration to whether Assembly members consider it is appropriate for that language to not be unparliamentary.

I go through the list of rulings over nearly 30 years in this place on words like "allegedly", "amateur hour", "arse about", "back door", "back to the schoolyard, plonk", "conned", "conspirators", "cowards", "cowardly", "having hands in everyone's pocket", and the list goes on. All of these things have been withdrawn or


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