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House of Representatives . . Page.. 325 ..


Statement by Speaker

MR SPEAKER: On Wednesday, 3 May 1995, Ms McRae raised a point of order concerning a statement made during an interview on radio by the Chief Minister. Ms McRae sought my advice on what my role is going to be in the instance referred to and future instances where there may be misrepresentations about what has occurred in the Assembly. House of Representatives Practice states:

As a general point of principle the Speaker's authority is that which is derived from the House, and the foremost duty is to the House and its Members in upholding its dignity and protecting its rights and privileges. Accordingly, the authority of the House and the Speaker have been described as indivisible. The Speaker acts as the House might direct, being the servant not the master.

House of Representatives Practice goes on to outline various powers, functions and duties of the Speaker.

The Assembly has not given any instructions to the Speaker in relation to matters such as that raised by Ms McRae. However, that would not preclude the Speaker from making a statement on a matter he or she considered important or necessary. As House of Representatives Practice states in relation to the procedural authority of the Speaker:

The Speaker may make statements or announcements to the House when necessary. A Speaker should not look to the standing orders for authority to do something that needs to be done or as a reason for not doing something. If the standing orders are silent or do not place a limitation on the Speaker, the Speaker should assume the authority to make any ruling or decision which the Speaker thinks is appropriate, and leave it to the House to challenge that ruling or decision if it does not agree with it. This is how the practice of the House is developed.

Members must also remember that misconduct by a member could be regarded as a contempt of the Assembly, and it is open to any member to make use of the procedure outlined in standing order 71 should they believe that an incident merits the use of that procedure.

Therefore, in answer to the general query raised by Ms McRae, where a member believes that the action by a person may obstruct the Assembly or its members or officers in the performance of their duties, they may use the provisions of standing order 71. I, as Speaker, will bring a matter to the attention of the Assembly should I believe that it is necessary to alert the Assembly to a matter that may tend substantially to obstruct the Assembly, its committees or its members in the performance of their functions. In relation to the specific incident referred to by Ms McRae, I believe that the matter has now been dealt with and at this stage I do not propose to take any further action.

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