Page 3553 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 22 October 2013

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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

MADAM SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne) took the chair at 10 am, made a formal recognition that the Assembly was meeting on the lands of the traditional custodians, and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Standing order 55

Statement by Speaker

MADAM SPEAKER: Members, I wish to make a statement concerning remarks made by Mr Barr during question time on Thursday, 19 September and the subsequent point of order taken by Ms Lawder. While answering a question from Mr Gentleman, Mr Barr stated—this was in relation to housing:

The key point that really gnaws away in their opposition to this scheme over six years is that it is working and it delivers an outcome for people they do not care about … and a failure to support those who most need support to enter into the housing market. It is sad and pathetic that the Liberal Party, after all of these years, still cannot bring themselves to lend a hand to those who need assistance to enter into the housing market.

Ms Lawder took a point of order referring to standing order 55 about imputations of improper motive, indicating Mr Barr’s comments that people in the Liberal Party did not care about disadvantaged people. At first I asked Mr Barr to withdraw. However, this request was based on advice from members on what they heard rather than what I heard, and this was a mistake on my part.

On reviewing the transcript I make the following comments, and I refer members to page 170 of the Companion to the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory, which states:

The fact that Members are criticised in the Assembly does not necessarily mean that standing orders have been breached. For example, the Chair has declined to rule that words complained of were offensive or disorderly, stating that he was reluctant to get involved in nuances and emphases in what, on the facts available, appeared to be essentially a political matter.

Furthermore, the sixth edition of the House of Representatives Practice at page 516 also observes that offensive words must be offensive in the true meaning of those words and that when a person is in public life they risk being criticised in a political way.

Having considered the matter, I do not believe that the comments that were made were an imputation of improper motive on Ms Lawder’s behalf. It is, however, open to members to use standing order 46 if they believe that they have been misrepresented.

I also draw members’ attention to what is the proper method of responding to interventions by the chair during proceedings. When I indicated that I would be

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