Page 1289 - Week 05 - Thursday, 18 June 2020

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Thursday, 18 June 2020

MADAM SPEAKER (Ms J Burch) 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.

Legislative Assembly—language

Statement by Speaker

MADAM SPEAKER: Members, at the last sitting, on 4 June 2020, the Assistant Speaker, Ms Cody, undertook to review Hansard to determine whether some words were a breach of standing order 55. Standing order 55 states:

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

During debate on a motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition, the Minister for Health stated the following:

As the Chief Minister has said, the numerous factual errors in Mr Coe’s motion and the way that he speaks really indicate that he is either ill informed, has not bothered to inform himself or he is just engaging in post-truth politics, which we know is a favourite pastime of conservative oppositions and, indeed, sometimes conservative governments.

Mrs Dunne then took a point of order, alleging that the use of the term “post-truth politics” is an accusation that Mr Coe lied, and that it should be withdrawn.

There are various definitions of the term “post-truth politics”. The Oxford Dictionaries selected “post-truth” as the 2016 international word of the year and defined post-truth as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”. The Cambridge English Dictionary similarly defines the term post-truth as “relating to a situation in which people are more likely to accept an argument based on their emotions and beliefs, rather than one based on facts”.

The Assembly’s Companion notes that rulings have been made by Speakers on various words and cites an example of one of my predecessors. It says:

In October 2003, Speaker Berry, in referring to a Member’s comments about the issue of her being described as ‘being guilty of hypocrisy’, stated:

… I have had a chance to reflect on the Hansard, and the decision and practice in this place over many years. On other occasions hypocrisy has been ruled out of order but I have formed the view that it is difficult in such a political hotbed to rule out discussion about the pretence of one’s position, sometimes described as hypocrisy. That is not to say that I am going to allow it where an inventive use of the word could lead to disorder.

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