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Wednesday, 26 March 2003
Page: 13570

Ms GEORGE (3:14 PM) —Mr Speaker, I wish to make a further personal explanation, if I could.

The SPEAKER —The member for Throsby will resume her seat. The member for Batman had raised an issue that I thought may have been about to be addressed by the member for Throsby.

Ms GEORGE —I am sorry if I have not got the orders quite right. I am seeking that the minister withdraw the offensive remarks that he made of imputed dishonesty on my part.

The SPEAKER —The member for Throsby will resume her seat. I have sat here, as I have said, and heard remarks of similar offence levelled across the chamber both ways. I do not believe that the remark made by the minister justifies withdrawal.

Mr Swan —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Standing order 76 reads:

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

The member for Throsby finds the remarks highly disorderly, as do many members on this side of the House. In the past when remarks like that have been made and there has been a request for a withdrawal, you have accommodated that request. I ask you to do that on this occasion.

The SPEAKER —The member for Brisbane has, of course, just solved the problem for me. I would remind the Manager of Opposition Business of standing order 78, which reads:

When the attention of the Speaker is drawn to words used, he or she shall determine whether or not they are offensive or disorderly.

Consistent with that, I do not approve of the remarks made by the minister, nor do I approve of the remarks made by interjection to the minister. Even less, as he is well aware, do I approve of the remark just made by the member for Brisbane.

Mr Bevis —I acknowledge the point you have made, Mr Speaker, and I withdraw.

Mr McMullan —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am seeking clarification of your ruling in response to the member for Lilley. If the minister's words that the member had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar—that is, Australian vernacular for breaking the law—are not offensive, what is?

The SPEAKER —There has been a general effort on both sides of the House to raise the standard of debate. I have been part of it, the Deputy Speaker and the Second Deputy Speaker have been part of it, and so have all members of the Speaker's panel. There has been an air of absurdity about what has happened this afternoon. I do not believe the matter should be any further addressed.