Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 22 March 2018) . . Page.. 904 ..
We all understand that in this place there is a clear cut and thrust of debate. Things often get heated. But there is a line, and that line should never be crossed. The standing orders, which are the rules by which debate and inquiry in this place are governed, are clear outlines of where those lines and boundaries are and what falls outside acceptable behaviour. The threats made by the Chief Minister towards the chair of that committee in a clear-cut manner are outside the realms of what is deemed acceptable behaviour.
Madam Speaker, standing order 277 outlines what constitutes a contempt. Specifically, standing order 277(b) refers to the improper influence of a member. The standing order says:
A person shall not, by fraud, intimidation, force or threat of any kind—
I repeat that: of any kind—
by the offer or promise of any inducement or benefit of any kind, or by other improper means, influence a Member in the Member’s conduct as a Member or induce a Member to be absent from the Assembly or a committee.
The opening part of that standing order makes this a fairly clear case:
A person shall not, by fraud, intimidation, force or threat of any kind …
Clearly, Madam Speaker, threats were made to the Chair of the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Tourism during the annual reports hearings. The exchange was fairly short, but it is fairly clear. The chair, after a heated exchange, as is the nature of debate in this place often, said:
I get to run this committee and I am asking you—
At that point he was cut off by the Chief Minister, saying:
For the time being, yes.
The chair asked:
Was that a threat?
The Chief Minister replied:
It is, yes.
So a threat was made as to whether or not the chair of that committee would remain. And then, when questioned as to whether or not the Chief Minister, Mr Barr, was making a threat to that chair, he confirmed that yes, he was.
From reading that exchange in the committee, in unison with the standing orders, quite clearly there is a case to be examined as to whether or not the Chief Minister has