Page 2992 - Week 07 - Thursday, 30 June 2011

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MRS DUNNE: Thank you, Mr Coe, for the question. There are a whole range of issues that are being covered by the committee inquiry. I am drawn to reflect on the tenor, I suppose, of the inquiry, which was highlighted by the submission by Mr Nick Xenophon, who quoted in his submission the finance and campaign director for President McKinley, and he said that there are two things about elections—

Ms Le Couteur: A point of order, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Mrs Dunne, one moment, thank you. Stop the clocks.

Opposition members interjecting

MR SPEAKER: Yes, I do not need guidance on the clocks, members. Relax. Ms Le Couteur, you have a point of order?

Ms Le Couteur: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am just not sure that this whole line of questioning is in order. I direct your attention to standing order 241(d), which says:

a committee may resolve to authorise a Member … to give public briefings …

The last sentence is:

The committee shall determine the limits of the authorisation.

As this is a question without notice, clearly the committee has not authorised Mrs Dunne, and I wonder if this whole proceeding is, in fact, in order.

MR SPEAKER: I refer to House of Representatives Practice

Members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order, members! Thank you.

Mr Coe interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Coe, please.

Mr Smyth interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order! I do not need guidance. I refer to House of Representatives Practice:

In any question to a chair of a committee it should be borne in mind that a chair should not make public pronouncements on behalf of the committee unless the committee has been consulted and given its permission beforehand.

Nonetheless, I think Mrs Dunne is open to answer questions about the conduct of the inquiry without necessarily drawing a conclusion about what conclusions the committee might draw. I suspect Mrs Dunne appreciates that difference.

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