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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 25 February 2010) . . Page.. 699 ..

Thursday, 25 February 2010

MR SPEAKER (Mr Rattenbury) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Questions without notice—standing order 117(e)

Statement by Speaker

MR SPEAKER: Members, I would like to make a brief statement with regard to standing order 117(e), which was discussed in question time yesterday. I want to cover that now, well ahead of today’s question time.

Yesterday in question time I ruled out of order a question asked by Mr Doszpot to the Treasurer. I ruled the question out of order on the basis that it infringed standing order 117(e) and that the substance of the question, in particular a preamble given by Mr Doszpot, made assertions which are now the subject of a privileges committee inquiry.

The establishment of a privileges committee to investigate an alleged contempt is a very serious step to take, both for the Assembly and for the individual concerned. The Assembly needs to vigilantly ensure that due process and fairness is followed in all of its activities, particularly in relation to privilege matters. Having reflected overnight, I remain committed to the position I took yesterday.

Subsequently, Mr Smyth asked me when it would be appropriate to ask Ms Gallagher questions about her activities as the Treasurer which were associated with the matter. Speaker Berry addressed the Assembly on this issue on 2 May 2006, and I think it is worth while repeating his statement here. He said:

To balance the competing needs of public interest and safeguarding committee deliberations, I intend to allow questions which only coincidentally refer to matters which are the subject of a committee inquiry. The appropriate practice is to allow questions seeking information on public affairs for which there is ministerial responsibility, provided that such questions are not of a nature which may attempt to interfere with a committee’s work or anticipate its report. For example, I will not allow questions which refer to evidence taken in camera, nor will I allow questions relating to evidence not yet authorised by a committee, nor will I allow questions which speculate on potential findings by a committee.

I will, therefore, continue to rule any question out of order which, and whether intentional or not, in my opinion is framed in such a way that it has the potential to adversely affect the operations of committees. This is subject, of course, to whatever course of action the house might in its wisdom wish to adopt in relation to this matter.

Speaker Berry went on:

In framing questions I request members to give consideration to this statement so as to avoid potentially disruptive calls for my approval for the rephrasing of

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