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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 22 March 2018) . . Page.. 908 ..

members have apologised. If it is allowed to stand that members can suggest that whoever is the Treasurer of the day is pocketing ratepayers’ revenue, I think it sets a very low benchmark for parliamentary debate.

This is an issue that requires clarification, and it should be dealt with in the Assembly. It is the only place that it can be dealt with. I would challenge any member in my position, having that accusation repeatedly made—repeatedly made, Madam Speaker, not a casual throwaway line but a direct line of attack on multiple occasions—to not react and seek for it to be withdrawn. It is highly offensive, I think the worst slander you could make on anyone who holds the position of Treasurer, or indeed any position in public administration where you are in one way or another responsible for revenue, to say that you are pocketing, trousering, money. Yes, I do take a huge amount of personal offence at that, and I suspect everyone would if they were in my position.

I think it is important, Madam Speaker, that we resolve this issue. The appropriate course of action today is, firstly, for the administration and procedure committee to consider the standing orders as they relate to the rights of members and witnesses when a committee chair or the Speaker makes a statement that a member takes offence at and considers a breach of the standing orders. What is the resolution process for that? That is something that I think should be considered in a standing orders review.

If it helps resolve this matter today, I withdraw any inference. But I will seek to move a resolution to remove Mr Hanson as the chair of that committee. It is, of course, open, as I say, to any member to bring forward such a resolution, but if this matter can be resolved today with a withdrawal by Mr Hanson of that allegation I will take no further action and will not endeavour to move any motions in this place regarding his chairmanship of that committee. That would be, I think, a sensible and mature way to resolve this matter. If he withdraws that allegation, I do not need to pursue it any further. I think the committee has reached that conclusion as well. That would be perhaps the most sensible and practical way that we could proceed.

Beyond this particular incident, Madam Speaker, it is very clear to me that we as an Assembly also need to have a look at what sort of language we are prepared to accept. The list of Speaker’s rulings is extensive. Over a 30-year period there have been quite a lot of words and imputations that have been either withdrawn or seen as unparliamentary. But, in my view, if this Assembly accepts that allegations of trousering money are acceptable to be made in hearings on the budget and on revenue, we will have hit a new all-time low.

Madam Speaker, I do not support the establishment of a privileges committee. I believe the appropriate way to resolve this matter is for both Mr Hanson and I to withdraw our comments. I withdraw mine. If he withdraws his, there is no further action required.

MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (10.22): I appreciate Mr Rattenbury giving me this opportunity to speak ahead of his remarks because I think it is important that I correct the record based on Mr Barr’s speech. Of course, he has done

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