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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (25 March) . . Page.. 862 ..

MR SPEAKER: There is nothing in the standing orders that obliges me or forces me to do that, Mr Hargreaves, but could I invite you to do so?

Mr Hargreaves: Mr Speaker, with the leave of members and yourself, I unreservedly withdraw that comment.


MR SPEAKER: I wish to make a brief comment concerning the provisions of standing orders relating to the imputation of improper motives to members or personal reflections on members. There were two instances during Assembly sittings on 9 and 10 March which deserve comment and, having examined the Hansard, I believe that certain comments made merit withdrawals. Standing order 55 provides:

All imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.

A similar provision relating to questions is contained in standing order 117(d), which states:

Questions shall not be asked which reflect on or are critical of the character or conduct of those persons whose conduct may only be challenged on a substantive motion, and notice must be given of questions critical of the character or conduct of other persons;

The practice of the Assembly, based on that of the House of Representatives, is that a member can direct a charge against another member or members or reflect upon their character or conduct only upon substantive motions which admit of a distinct vote of the house.

During Assembly proceedings on 9 March I had cause to rule out of order a supplementary question directed to the Attorney-General by Mr Berry. I did so substantively because the supplementary question contained an imputation that reflected upon another member, namely, the Chief Minister.

During proceedings on the following day, Mr Kaine referred to an assertion made by the Chief Minister that he had retained government documents after he had ceased being a Minister. Earlier, during questions without notice, the Chief Minister had alleged that Mr Kaine had not returned Cabinet submissions. Mr Kaine drew my attention to standing order 55, stated his belief that the Chief Minister was guilty of being disorderly and asked that I take the matter under consideration and make a ruling about it.

I have considered the matters raised in both instances, together with the further comments made by the Chief Minister after I had undertaken to consider the matter, and comments made by Mr Kaine in response, both of which I did not hear but note in the

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