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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 9 December 2010) . . Page.. 6116 ..


I think it is clear that the reason you were named, Mr Hanson, came down very clearly to the fact that Madam Assistant Speaker at the time did ask you to withdraw and you refused. I believe she was left with no choice in the fact that you declined to comply with the Speaker’s ruling. I think that is clearly why you were named.

On the issue of the particular language that was used, I think that this is a challenging area. I have gone to House of Representatives Practice, which is quite clear in stating:

The determination as to whether words used in the House—

in this case—

are offensive or disorderly rests with the chair, and the chair’s judgment depends on the nature of the word and the context in which it is used.

I think that sums it up quite well in the sense that it is a question of context. I have had prepared for me by the Secretariat a list they keep of the unparliamentary language that has been ruled on in this chamber over the entire time this Assembly has sat. It is quite an amusing list in places. If you go through it, you will see that the word “lying” and every permutation of it, as well as the words “truth”, “true” and every other permutation of that have been used and asked to be withdrawn on various occasions.

Equally—certainly in the examples you have handed me today—I think there are a number of occasions where it has not been ruled to be unparliamentary. I think this speaks to the fact that it is a question of judgement and a question of context. My sense is that there is a difference between saying that something is untrue and saying someone is being untruthful. I think that is the essence of standing order 117, which talks about imputations against members.

So in that context, having reviewed the Hansard from yesterday, I think it is clear why you were named. I think the Assistant Speaker’s judgement at the time was the judgement she made. I think it is quite clear. The language you used, in speaking of Ms Gallagher, was that she was caught quite clearly not telling the truth back then. The Assistant Speaker made a judgement on that at the time.

Is there anything arising from question time?

Mr Smyth: Point of order, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: We are not going to re-debate this, Mr Smyth; so if you could be brief.

Mr Smyth: No, I am not going to re-debate. No, not at all. I am entitled to ask points of order under standing order 73 and I seek your ruling.

MR SPEAKER: You are not entitled; you are entitled to ask for leave.

Mr Smyth: No. It says that a member may raise a point of order at any time.


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