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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 22 March 2018) . . Page.. 906 ..

MADAM SPEAKER: This is a serious matter, Chief Minister. I know it is on record that it has been withdrawn. I do find the word difficult. I will let it stand this time, but I will be very conscious of the language that is used in this debate from here on. Please, Mr Wall, be very mindful of the serious matter that you are bringing on and use your words carefully.

MR WALL: I will endeavour to do so, Madam Speaker. As I said earlier in my opening remarks, this level of behaviour in any other workplace would be deemed unacceptable. It should not be tolerated in a workplace. It should not be tolerated in the territory’s parliament. And, most importantly, it is not tolerated by the voters who put us here. I would encourage all members to support this motion and do the right thing in drawing a clear line in the sand as to what behaviour is acceptable in this place and what behaviour is not.

MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism and Major Events) (10.11): I thank Mr Wall for bringing this matter forward today, because there are a number of issues that this chamber does need to deal with in relation to this incident. I will go through each of those as they relate to the standing orders, gaps within the standing orders, and what standards we are going to set in terms of the use of particular language in this place.

The context for this particular matter relates to hearings held on 6 November 2017. During an exchange in relation to revenue, the chair of the committee, Mr Hanson, said on a number of occasions that money had “gone into your pocket”, meaning mine, rather than ratepayers’. I corrected that on at least four occasions, Madam Speaker, and yet the chair persisted in suggesting—and it is there in the Hansard for all to see—that money was going into my pocket. I repeatedly said, “No, not into my pocket; it goes to the Revenue Office.”

Mr Hanson went on to say:

But while you are Chief Minister, it all goes into your pocket rather than ratepayers’.

For the fourth time, I corrected that:

No, it is not going into my pocket, Mr Hanson.

It then continued, to the point where I asked for that to be withdrawn, that imputation, which was in my view a personal reflection and certainly invoked standing order 55, which says:

All imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.

The difficulty in this context, in a committee hearing, is when the chair, effectively the Speaker, the presiding member of that committee, makes the offensive remark and refuses to withdraw. I asked for it to be withdrawn, I think, 13 times, Madam Speaker. It was very clear that I took offence at that, and I think I have every reason to take offence at that.

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