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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (29 April) . . Page.. 188 ..

MR HUMPHRIES: I heard Mr Corbell in relative silence and I ask for the same privilege. Mr Speaker, this motion calls for the tabling of information. Indeed, the information has been tabled by the Australian Labor Party in respect of the extent to which this motion touches on them. I have no doubt that, if other members now produce information of the kind being called for, members here would seek to debate that information in exactly the same way. How you can separate calling for the information and not talking about the information once it is presented is bizarre.

Mr Speaker, I ask the house to uphold your ruling. It is in accordance not only with commonsense but also with exactly the same practice which has been followed in this place for a long time. If Mr Berry seeks to change this practice - if, in particular, he seeks to change the practice which he has relied on many times in this place - he is going about it in entirely the wrong way. He should change the words of the standing orders, not attempt to have some different direction created by dissenting from the Speaker's ruling.

MR BERRY (5.20): What a ridiculous argument! Mr Humphries stands in this place barefaced and says that it is an entirely relevant debate to talk about the particular criteria which have become the subject of interest here when they did not even exist, so far as the debate was concerned, when he moved the motion. What a joke you are! Fancy saying that the criteria were relevant when they were not even in your hands when you wrote the motion.

Mr Speaker, I am relaxed about the outcome of this debate because it will set the tone for the future. It will make clear to every member of this house that they no longer have to be relevant and that standing order 58 is of no use, of no import. In fact, it would be quite appropriate, Mr Speaker, for this Assembly to strike it out or strike out that part of it that relates to members being prohibited from digressing from the subject matter. Mr Speaker, the fact of the matter is that the standing order has been interpreted by you to mean nothing, that is, that the subject before the house is able to be progressed if it is from the Liberal Party. Mr Speaker, if it is going to apply to the Liberal Party, it should apply to us all. When this is carried - - -

Mr Humphries: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Mr Berry, in the comments just made, has suggested that your ruling has been dependent on the matter being contested in this place having come from the Liberal Party. What Mr Berry is saying is that your ruling is different for the Liberal Party to what it would be for the Labor Party. Mr Speaker, that is a suggestion which goes to your integrity, your independence and your impartiality as Speaker in this place, and Mr Berry should withdraw it unequivocally.

MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, be careful with your ruling on this one - if I might have a few words in relation to the point of order - because the usual position in this place is that if somebody has something as strong as this to say about anybody they should deal with it by way of a substantive motion. This is a debate about your ruling, Mr Speaker, and you have to expect your integrity in relation to your ruling to be discussed in the course of this debate.

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