Page 840 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 27 February 2013
MADAM SPEAKER: Minister Burch, I have actually just said to you that you are not responsible for policies of other parties, so could you confine your comments to—
MS BURCH: I will confine myself to a reflection on a policy that was a dismal failure and it has been—
MADAM SPEAKER: Minister Burch, sit down. Questions without notice.
Mr Rattenbury: On a point of order, Madam Speaker, I want to seek your clarification on the earlier observation you made to Minister Burch around her responding to interjections across the chamber. You pointed out to her that standing order 118 requires that she be directly relevant. Standing order 39 also requires that members not interject. I am seeking your clarification on the balance of those two standing orders.
MADAM SPEAKER: On the point of order or the clarification, there is no conflict between those. As I said here before, I believe that a certain amount of interjection is part of the cut and thrust of debate at any time—equally in question time, and I do not expect that question time will be conducted in silence. As you may have noticed on a number of occasions during this question time, Mr Rattenbury, I have specifically spoken to individual members of the opposition and members of the opposition generally about their interjections.
With standing order 39, it has never been the practice that it has been applied so that there is silence in this chamber. It has never been the history of this place. As I have said on previous occasions, if you think that the rough and tumble in this place is too much, you need to go and get a lesson in how other chambers work, because this is pretty mild. On a number of occasions, and it has been the practice of previous Speakers, I have drawn members’ attention to the fact that they should not be engaging in conversation when they are debating or answering questions and responding to interjections. That is what I asked Minister Burch to be mindful of.
Mr Rattenbury: If I might indulge in a further clarification, I accept your view of standing order 39. As you know, I held a similar view around having some latitude on that issue. I am unclear why the same latitude is not applied to standing order 118, when provoked, in the rough and tumble of question time, which I think is your description of the matter.
MADAM SPEAKER: The thing is, Mr Rattenbury, I think—
Mr Seselja interjecting—
MADAM SPEAKER: Thanks, Mr Seselja. I am trying to give some clarity here. I think there is a fair amount of scope for rough and tumble in debate, and rigour in debate. But sometimes interjections are about extraneous matters. I have drawn Ms Burch’s attention, and I would draw the attention of every member who answers a question, to standing order 118, which requires them to be concise and directly