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Wednesday, 31 March 1999
Page: 4874

Mr ALLAN MORRIS —My question is directed to you, Mr Speaker. This week for the first time in my experience a question was ruled out of order based on scorn and derision. When I asked you a question today about ministers' answers, you indicated that you were not able to rule out such answers. Could you perhaps in the recess describe what scorn and derision mean to you or how you are going to define them so we can understand how you will apply this new precedent?

Mr SPEAKER —I am certain that not one member, not even the new members of the House of Representatives, were surprised when the member for Grayndler's question was ruled out of order yesterday. It was ruled out of order under standing order 145, and it was ruled out of order because it obviously contained ironic expressions which are not allowed under standing order 145.

It is fair for the member for Newcastle to observe that I used the terms `scorn' and `derision', which were part of that question, but it is also equally fair and self-evident that the question contained a large number of ironic expressions. For that reason, it was out of order. It would be absurd for the Speaker to hand down some sort of ruling on scorn and derision. On the majority of occasions in the House of Representatives there is a great deal of good natured banter which neither side would want the Speaker to take action over. Some of that banter is scornful but not mischievously so. I do not intend to hand down some sort of absurd rule on scorn and derision. I know that the commonsense of members will prevail.