Page 2155 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 22 June 2005
the issues surrounding this person in the cells as all of these matters would find their way to the courts. I intend to adopt the same view because I do not want to take the risk of debate in this place affecting or prejudicing proceedings in the courts. This convention that we always observe is a restriction on debate that the Assembly imposes on itself. Where matters are awaiting or under adjudication by the courts, debate is avoided where it could influence juries or prejudice court proceedings. I just do not think that it is worth the risk and I intend to rule that this would offend the sub judice convention. I am going to disallow the question.
Mr Stefaniak: Will you hear me a bit more on that, Mr Speaker? The sub judice rule is there for matters that actually are before a court. The matter that will be before the courts is a very serious one, an allegation of rape. I do not know whether a person has been charged. The question relates to a procedural matter. It relates to something that occurred beforehand. The police PR spokesman may well have not wanted to answer questions. His minister did not want to answer questions. It is quite reasonable to expect someone from that area to follow what his minister is doing. But to confuse that with the sub judice rule and to confuse that with the substantive issue, which is a very serious matter of rape, is wrong. I would submit that the question is all right because it does not go to that substantive issue before the courts.
MR SPEAKER: Clearly, the question goes to procedural matters in the sense that it may or may not involve the police handling of the matter. At the same time, how can we know exactly what is going to end up before the courts anyway unless we have the debate in here and make declarations about innocence and guilt? That is not our role, clearly. The point that I am making is that there is a matter before the courts. I am not going to allow debate in this place that might prejudice those proceedings. It is open to this place, once this matter is dealt with in the courts, to do as it wishes in relation to the procedural matters that you say might be referred to in the question. As far as I am concerned, that is the end of the matter. I think that it is a matter of sub judice and I am not going to allow the question.
Mr Mulcahy: On the point of order, Mr Speaker—
MR SPEAKER: Order! I have made a ruling on it.
Mr Mulcahy: Mr Speaker, I ask that the question be read in accordance with standing order 60.
MR SPEAKER: That is about a question in relation to a motion. It is not related to this matter.
Mr Pratt: Mr Speaker, on the point of order—
MR SPEAKER: Order! I have ruled on the matter. If you do not like my ruling, it is open to you to move dissent from it. If that is your choice, we will proceed down that path, but I have made my ruling.
Dissent from ruling
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (2.52): With respect, Mr Speaker, I seek leave to move dissent from your ruling.