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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (27 March) . . Page.. 909 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

nevertheless, and that is the one that draws the most attention when it comes to ministers answering questions.

But let's face it: it is open to any group of us in here to unload the Speaker at any time. Historically, the Speaker has always been in a risky position. We know that in Westminster the proposer of the Speaker, after the Speaker is elected, physically assists the Speaker to the chair, because history tells us that the Speaker is the most likely to be necked by the king or queen. It has always been seen to be an arduous job. It is less arduous with 17 members, of course, than it is with several hundred. The contest of ideas amongst the 17 is much clearer and less organised, one might argue, given the fractious membership of this place. So we have a situation where it is open to any of us to challenge the Speaker at any time.

I saw the events of the last time we sat as a very clear shot across the bows, if I can put it that way, of the Speaker. It was, in my view, as a result of an extraordinary exchange in relation to an industrial issue at Canberra Hospital. I also have dealt with industrial disputes in the past and I have to admit that on occasions relationships become tense. One human frailty is to try to defend oneself by attacking, but I must say I was rather upset at Mr Moore's response in relation to this.

I refer to the uncorrected proof copy of Hansard covering the events on that day, and I must say, Mr Speaker, that I had no hesitation in opposing the motion to throw Mr Kaine out because of the events which led to what he said. At one stage Mr Moore was having a bit of a shot at the nurses, and Mr Speaker said:

I have the standing order in front of me. I am not sure that there is any reflection or he is being critical of the character or conduct of a person who happens to be involved somewhere in the Trades and Labour Council. I think it is rather a slur on the TLC...

That commentary angered me, I must say, and I took the view, rightly or wrongly, that the Speaker had entered the debate somewhat further than he should have. The response went on and Mr Moore continued to vent his spleen in relation to the nurses, as he is entitled to, but I will come to another issue in relation to that in just a moment.

Mr Speaker, I again refer to comments by you. You said:

Questions may not ask ministers for expressions of opinion. As I understood from the minister's response, he was speculating on what would happen on the one hand or another. That is hardly an expression of opinion, in my view. However, I did not hear it very clearly, so you might like to repeat it again for my benefit.

That, in my view, was just inviting Mr Moore to make more provocative comments. When Mr Kaine, shortly after that, rose to his feet and said, "For how much longer are you going to connive with this government to turn question time into a joke?", I must say I had some sympathy for Mr Kaine's view, and I am not surprised. I had no hesitation in voting against the motion to exclude Mr Kaine from this Assembly.

People will say that to some extent that is a vote of no confidence in the Speaker. My understanding is that history tells us that not many Speakers have left their job because of a motion of a similar order in a parliament in Australia at least. One comes to mind

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