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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 9 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2568 ..

MR SPEAKER (continuing):

Having considered the matter, I intend - subject to any direction of the Assembly, of course - to allow references in debates and questions to previous votes of the Assembly, provided that they are clearly not critical of the vote or decision taken. I consider that to interpret the standing orders otherwise will simply invite points of order every time a member makes reference to a point of view which is contrary to that of a previous decision of the Assembly. I thus intend to follow the House of Representatives practice and allow debate to proceed in such a way as to enable a reasonable expression of views on matters of public concern.

Statement by Speaker

MR SPEAKER: In recent months points of order have been raised and rulings given concerning the use of unparliamentary words against a group or an organisation. For example, a member was prevented from accusing a Minister of being a liar, but subsequently accused the Government of being liars. In the past a remark having been made that reflects upon a group rather than an individual has not been ruled out of order.

Having considered the matter, I intend to prevent such occurrences in future. From now on, subject to any direction that the Assembly may give me, I intend to adopt the House of Representatives practice, as stated on page 487 of House of Representatives Practice, which quotes the following ruling by Speaker Snedden in 1981 which has been applied by successive Speakers in that house:

I think that if an accusation is made against members of the House which, if made against any one of them, would be unparliamentary and offensive, it is in the interests of the comity of this House that it should not be made against all as it could not be made against one. Otherwise, it may become necessary for every member of the group against whom the words are alleged to stand up and personally withdraw himself or herself from the accusation.

Accordingly, I call upon members to cease using unparliamentary expressions against a group or all members which would be unparliamentary if used against an individual.

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