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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (8 March) . . Page.. 874 ..

MR SPEAKER: Be quiet. Like other people, I find it is not always easy to hear answers. Mr Kaine suggested that I was somehow manipulating question time, and I refute that statement. I am trying to be as impartial as I can as Speaker. I appreciate that not everybody believes that. Nevertheless, I try to do my best in this chair.

Mr Kaine, I have named you. I have attempted to explain my position. If you wish to apologise on that basis, I would be happy to accept it.

Mr Kaine: No, Mr Speaker, I won't.

MR SPEAKER: Very well, if you feel strongly enough that that is the case.

Mr Kaine: I am firmly of the view that the government has turned question time into a farce and a disgrace, and I have said so.

MR SPEAKER: You did indeed.

Mr Kaine: I won't withdraw that. Go ahead.

Mr Moore: On a point of order: standing order 203 says very clearly-that is why I put the motion-"shall forthwith put the question", which does not allow Mr Corbell the opportunity to either seek leave or move for the suspension of standing orders. The word "forthwith" means that once I have moved that motion you have to put it to the Assembly. That is the meaning of the word "forthwith".

Mr Humphries: I simply want to make the point to the house that this place operates on the basis that the Speaker will be viewed as a person with the authority to be able to conduct the business of the house. If members are not satisfied with that, members should take it up with the Speaker. I don't know which members have taken up this issue with the Speaker. I suspect none have.

We have come this path before on occasions in this place. We have taken the view in this place that in a small Assembly, just 17 members, we will not operate effectively unless the authority of the chair is respected. Even in the past when I had violent disagreements with your predecessor, Speaker McRae, and others had disagreements with Speaker Prowse, there has always been an attempt at the end of the day to respect the integrity of the office of the Speaker of this Assembly.

What Mr Kaine said, to be perfectly frank, Mr Speaker, is clearly outside the standing orders of this place. Had it occurred in any other parliament in Australia, it would have been asked to be withdrawn. Irrespective of what the lead-up to it was, it would have been asked to be withdrawn. The parliament concerned would, in each case, have respected the authority of the Speaker by naming a member who refuses to withdraw in those circumstances.

I think it is wrong to argue that there has been a lack of balance today. Earlier today Mr Berry held up a placard in this place, after having been warned on a previous occasion about bringing such props into this place.

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