Page 2941 - Week 07 - Thursday, 30 June 2011

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Thursday, 30 June 2011

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.

Legislative Assembly—unparliamentary language

Statement by Speaker

MR SPEAKER: Members, before we get underway this morning, there are a couple of matters requiring some follow-up. Firstly, yesterday evening Ms Hunter took a point of order asking me to review Hansard in relation to comments made by Mrs Dunne during debate on Mr Seselja’s motion concerning the strategic and functional review. In her comments Mrs Dunne stated:

What we heard there was the video version of the job application from Ms Hunter so that she can permanently and legitimately occupy the ministerial suite on the top floor.

Later Mrs Dunne stated:

The Greens can see the trophy at the end of the tunnel. There is still a bit of a dispute as to who gets the trophy, but the trophy is that vacant ministerial position. Suddenly they are prepared to compromise themselves over all of these things.

On this point she finally stated:

This member would rather be a minister than represent the people of the ACT … she is prepared to bow to the will of the current Chief Minister, the person who will make a decision about whether there is a fifth ministry and who occupies that spot.

Standing orders require that members should not use offensive words against any member or the judiciary. Standing orders also stipulate that imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on members shall be considered highly disorderly.

Having considered the matter, I do not believe that the comments made contain an imputation or offensive words. In making that consideration, I looked to House of Representatives Practice at page 501, which refers to a ruling made by a Deputy President of the Senate. It states, and I warn members this statement was made in 1955, so it is not gender appropriate:

… offensive words must be offensive in the true meaning of that word. When a man is in political life it is not offensive that things are said about him politically. Offensive means offensive in some personal way. The same view applies to the meaning of “improper motives” and “personal reflections” as used in the standing order. Here again, when a man is in public life and a member of [this] parliament, he takes upon himself the risk of being criticised in a political way.

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