Page 2157 - Week 06 - Thursday, 7 May 2009

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Mr Corbell: You have to be able to chew gum and walk at the same time in this place.

MRS DUNNE: That “you can chew gum and walk at the same time” is an indication of that. Yes, we can do more than one thing at a time. But the aim was to distract from the address-in-reply. The aim was to take staff off doing one thing and put them onto doing something else to ensure that you had another story. You tried to run another story that would distract from the address-in-reply. It is pretty base. It is pretty transparent. And it does not actually do anything to address the substantial and serious issues of inappropriate language, behaviour and address towards a member of the Legislative Assembly.

Members of the Legislative Assembly should have big shoulders. People say outrageous things—sometimes jokingly, sometimes not—about members of the Legislative Assembly on a regular basis and basically you have to suck it in. But when it is done in the way that was done in relation to the Deputy Chief Minister, it is time that we all took a pause. That is why the Leader of the Opposition has acted in the way that he has—a principled way, the way of saying, “I have done everything that I can to find the answers to these questions.”

But this is the internet. And the attorney would know how difficult it is to police the internet and to find out what is going on. I am sure that if the Deputy Chief Minister wanted to take it further with Facebook there may be some means by which Facebook could identify where it was posted from and from what computer. That is possible through the server. But that is not possible for the Leader of the Opposition to do.

The Leader of the Opposition and the President of the Liberal Party have made all the inquiries that they can. The people who have been identified amongst the staff who have been involved in this have been more than contrite, genuinely contrite. Mr Hanson has dealt with the matter.

While recognising that these things have been said and they should not have been said, recognising that they have been apologised for, recognising that every reasonable step has so far been taken, if anyone in this place or elsewhere knows anything more that can shed light on who the perpetrator was, they should come forward; they should take this matter to the Leader of the Opposition or to the President of the Liberal Party so that we can do something about that.

At the same time, this Assembly should resolve that as far as possible this should never happen again. That resolution means that each one of us should live up to the code of conduct that we expect ministers to live up to. There is a members code of conduct. We should be living up to that code of conduct and we should be prepared to put our name to Mr Seselja’s amendment.

MR SPEAKER: Members, I have consulted with the Clerk on House of Representatives Practice and I will be ruling Mr Seselja’s amendment out of order. I quote from House of Representatives Practice:

An amendment proposed to be made, either to the original question or to a proposed amendment, must be framed so that, if it is agreed to, the question or amendment, as amended, would be intelligible and internally consistent.

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