Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 3943 ..
MR SPEAKER: No, I cannot. The question before the house is that standing orders be suspended, to enable Ms Tucker to table the document. It is really up to members whether they want to allow her to table the document or not. Once they have made a decision that she can table the document, she can table it, no matter what I do.
MR HUMPHRIES (Leader of the Opposition) (4.31): Mr Speaker, the failure to allow this document to be tabled is a truly outrageous step. It would be completely inappropriate for the Assembly not to receive this document-for a number of reasons.
In the course of Mrs Cross' speech the other day on this privileges report, she made some extremely serious allegations against me and, in making these allegations, she implicated Mr Osborne. I have the opportunity to defend myself on the floor of this place and I did so, on that occasion. Mr Osborne does not have the opportunity to come here these days to defend himself, but he does have the opportunity to put information before this house.
Information can be put before the house in a number of ways. It can be put by virtue of the process outlined by Mrs Cross-the capacity of a person to make a statement where they have been misrepresented or maligned on the floor of the house.
That is perfectly true, but that is not the only avenue available to members. Members of the public can have information put before the house by members of this place. Indeed, that happens all the time. Members come here and quote what somebody else has said when that person has been mentioned on the floor of this house. They simply say that so-and-so says this about what has been said of him or her. That happens all the time, and it is perfectly legitimate.
Another way members of the public might put issues before this house is through the tabling of documents of the kind Ms Tucker has attempted to table. What is wrong with receiving that document? I have seen a copy of the document. It merely denies the specific allegations made by Mrs Cross. What possible reason could there be for not tabling the document?
Mrs Cross says the document is defamatory of her. With great respect, what she said the other day was clearly defamatory-or would be if it was said outside this place, if she had the courage to say it outside this place, but she did not. What she said constituted a highly improper imputation on another member, but it was also a matter that affected Mr Osborne. Mr Osborne is entitled to have the matter put on the table here. Mrs Cross went on to say that the statements in Mr Osborne's statutory declaration are false.
I cannot understand, Mr Speaker, on what possible basis Mrs Cross could make that statement. When she related this so-called conversation to the house the other day, Mrs Cross did not purport to having been present when the conversation occurred. So how could she know whether the conversation she complains of took place or not? If she was not there, how could she know? How could she say that what Mr Osborne says in his statement is untrue? She has no basis for saying it is untrue-she can have no knowledge. The fact is that Mr Osborne, in the statement, denies that there was any such conversation-and, in my comments in this place on Tuesday, I denied that this conversation took place. More importantly, the person who is supposed to have told Mrs Cross about the conversation denies that the conversation took place. Nobody is