Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 22 March 2018) . . Page.. 913 ..
so they cannot actually be removed from the record. They are there; the standard has been set. Surely it sets a terrible precedent that anybody can say anything at any time and then come into this place months later and say, “I withdraw,” and you get away with it. I ask for your ruling.
MR RATTENBURY: Madam Speaker, on Mr Coe’s point of order, that is what happens all the time. I have been pulled up once or twice and forced to withdraw, and I have an entire lists of comments that have been withdrawn. Members come in here, they make comments, they are withdrawn and that is the end of the matter. That is why I am seeking your clarification, Madam Speaker, on the status of this motion. If Mr Barr has withdrawn, is there still a question of privilege before the chamber?
Mr Coe: Madam Speaker, I accept Mr Rattenbury’s comment that this happens on a regular basis for lesser crimes. However, a privileges committee could still be set up for those remarks. The fact that it is not set up is a separate issue. This is a serious matter. We cannot have a precedent whereby anybody can say anything in this chamber or in a committee and then come in here and say, “I withdraw,” and get immunity from a privileges committee. That is, in effect, what could happen if this precedent were to be established today.
MR RATTENBURY: Madam Speaker, the standing orders—and certainly looking through the list of unparliamentary terms—do not have a grading by seriousness over the years. In terms of Mr Coe’s point, for 30 years in this place members have come in here and said all sorts of things then withdrawn them, and that has been the end of the matter. That is the question I am seeking to explore.
Mr Coe: Madam Speaker, the issue of whether something is unparliamentary is certainly relevant to this. However, we are also talking about contempt of the Assembly. We are also talking about the intentions and the personal threat. It goes beyond the actual words. It goes beyond the dictionary definition; it goes to the intent of what the Chief Minister was actually saying and doing. I think it is a very dangerous precedent that we could establish today if we are not careful. It would be much better that, if such a ruling were to be made and such a precedent were to be installed, at least there was time to reflect on it.
MADAM SPEAKER: Members, I think the way forward through this is this: the words and language used have been asked to be withdrawn, and they have been withdrawn. We know the consequences—if they are not withdrawn then the person is named and warned and dealt with.
In this case, matters have been worked through by a committee and the committee has provided an outcome. That was tested on Monday, when the matter was brought to me for my consideration of precedence. That was put aside because I believed, and the advice states, that the committee had dealt with it.
You, Mr Wall, as is your right, have brought on a motion today. But the motion is about the language and words used, and that offending language and those words have been clearly withdrawn today.