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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 1885 ..

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. Mr Humphries made an imputation against the reputations of all members of this place by saying that he believed members in this place supplied the information. I would ask that he withdraw the imputation.

MR HUMPHRIES: No, Mr Speaker, I have not made an imputation against the reputations of all the members of this place. I simply made an assertion which I believe to be true. If members individually wish to own up to such behaviour, then I am very happy to withdraw the imputation in respect of them, simply because it would be unparliamentary. It is not true to say that all members of this place have had their reputations badly affected by this matter.

Mr Berry: That is an imputation, Mr Speaker. You cannot let him get away with that nonsense.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Berry, I do not want to enter into the argument. Mr Humphries did say "members of this place". I am not sure whether he was referring to this chamber, this Assembly or the building itself. It could be anything.

Mr Moore: Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. Mr Humphries, in answering this question and a series of other questions, has raised the sub judice issue, which I think really requires a ruling from you. The sub judice rule can be breached in a series of ways - either by one question that leads to an answer or by a whole series of questions which leave no doubt as to what the answer is. I believe that, as an Assembly, we are on particularly thin ice in terms of the important principles of separation of powers. I think it is appropriate for you to consider very carefully whether or not these questions are in order.

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, Mr Moore is trying to put a blanket right over the questioning of the relevant Minister in relation to important matters. It is not for this Assembly to put a blanket over the questioning processes of this Assembly by misuse of the standing orders.

MR SPEAKER: There is no point of order. House of Representatives Practice at page 516, sets out the form and content of questions. Among other things, they are related to a Minister's public responsibilities. However, this Assembly, or any other parliament for that matter, cannot override a suppression order of the courts.

Mr Berry: Indeed, and nobody has set out to do that.

MR SPEAKER: The fact is that the Minister had indicated that there is a suppression order. I am not in a position to decide what can be answered and what cannot, but the Attorney-General is and he has made the point - - -

Mr Berry: Let him argue the case of whether it is suppressed or not.

MR SPEAKER: You can ask your supplementary question, Mr Stanhope. Whether you get an answer or not is entirely up to the Attorney-General.

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