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Thursday, 26 September 2002
Page: 7392

Mr CREAN (Leader of the Opposition) (3:54 PM) —I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Minister for Small Business and Tourism from providing a full explanation of his interjection during Question Time and in particular:

(a) whether he used the word treason;

(b) if so, about whom; and

(c) with what justification;

and the member for Griffith equal time to respond.

What we have here is a government that has accused one of our former commanders of the SAS of treason.

Mr Abbott —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Standing order 169 says:

the Speaker or the Chair may, in his or her discretion, disallow any motion or amendment which is the same in substance as any question, which, during the same session, has been resolved in the affirmative or negative.

I put it to you, Mr Speaker, that this is a repetition of what the Leader of the Opposition previously sought to do.

Mr McMullan —Mr Speaker, on the point of order: the only things that are common to this motion and the motion which has just been defeated is that they contain the words `that so much of standing and sessional orders be suspended'. In every other way the motions are different. The current motion does not propose that we should be authorised to move a motion but that the minister should be allowed, under the standing orders, to explain himself. There has been no debate or motion about that matter. Under the standing orders we are entitled to move a motion that would require him to explain himself—as I think every Australian would expect he should be called upon to do.

Mr Abbott —Mr Speaker, further to the point of order: as everyone in this House knows, this motion has exactly the same object and is designed to prove exactly the same thing as the previous two matters. I think this matter has been put to the House twice before, it has been negatived twice before and I think what is being done now is an abuse of the process of this House.

Mr Stephen Smith —Mr Speaker, on the point of order: irrespective of what the motivation or intention may or may not be, the standing orders do not go to motivation; the standing orders go to substance. The motions are entirely different in substance.

The SPEAKER —The motions are not entirely different in substance, as the member for Perth must be well aware. That is why this matter has come up as a point of order. Nonetheless, the motions have been framed in a different way and have provided for a different facility for the minister. For that reason I have allowed the motion to stand.

Mr CREAN —This motion is important because we have had an inadequate answer from the Minister for Small Business and Tourism. He used the word `treason' in question time against one of our former commanders of defence—

Mr ABBOTT (Warringah—Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) (3.58 p.m.)—I move:

That the member be not further heard.

Question put.