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Monday, 16 June 2008
Page: 4847


Ms JULIE BISHOP (3:06 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister require the member for Robertson to make a statement to this House in relation to the events of 6 June at the Iguana bar, specifically the threat to use her position as a member of parliament to see workers lose their jobs and the Iguana bar lose its licence?


Mr Albanese —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Standing order 100(c)(i) clearly indicates that, for questions regarding persons, questions must not reflect on or be critical of the character or conduct of a member, a senator et cetera. It makes it very clear, for very good reasons, so that unsubstantiated allegations against members cannot be tossed around the chamber; they can only be moved by substantive—


The SPEAKER —The Leader of the House will resume his seat. I think that this illustrates the meaning of the words at page 538 of House of Representatives Practice, because they do relate to standing order 100(c). All occupants of the chair find themselves in a very difficult position in this case, but what standing order 100(c) does indicate is that there are other measures in the hands of the House to deal with matters.


Mr Melham —Other forms.


The SPEAKER —Other forms. Thank you, member for Banks.


Mr Hockey —On the point of order, Mr Speaker: further to that statement, I refer to page 538 of House of Representatives Practice

Government members interjecting—


The SPEAKER —Order! I am allowing discussion on this point of order.


Mr Hockey —and I remind the Speaker that under Speaker Halverson and Speaker Andrew, questions were asked of the member for Groom about his conference treasurer and the GST. Questions were asked in this chamber and accepted by the Speaker in relation to the member for Bowman, the member for Bonner and also the member for Moreton. The questions were actually asked about the conduct and behaviour of those members. How the Prime Minister chose to respond was an entirely different matter.


The SPEAKER —There are other examples of where questions about the actions of people have been ruled out of order as well. In being asked to make a ruling about the question, I rule it out of order.


Ms Julie Bishop —Mr Speaker, I was going to assist you in relation to this matter with a statement made by the Prime Minister himself about it. As the guardian of the—


The SPEAKER —The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume her seat. There is no point of order.


Mr Hockey —Further to the point of order, Mr Speaker: the questions specifically ask if the Prime Minister is going to undertake an action as Prime Minister, to be accountable for the actions of his own members of parliament, and he is perfectly entitled to be asked a question about the actions of one of his own members.


Mr Adams interjecting


The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Lyons is not assisting. As I indicated, there are other forms of the House where the House can discuss the actions of members of the House. The Prime Minister is responsible for the executive. He is not responsible under the standing orders for the actions of backbench members of the governing party.

Opposition members interjecting—


The SPEAKER —For those brave people who are reflecting on the chair by interjection, that is the case.


Mr Hockey —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. If the Prime Minister is not responsible for the conduct of one of his own members of caucus, what on earth is he responsible for? The questions are entitled to be asked. We are perfectly entitled to ask the questions to get an answer.


The SPEAKER —Order! That is not a point of order. The member for North Sydney will resume his seat. The member for Franklin has the call. The member for North Sydney on a point of order.


Mr Hockey —I move that so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the member for North Sydney moving immediately that the member for Robertson be, one, required to appear before the House at the first available opportunity after question time and explain her behaviour—


The SPEAKER —Order! The member for North Sydney will resume his seat.


Mr Melham —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I ask that you rule this motion out of order. You called the honourable member on this side. The honourable member opposite is entitled to move such a motion in between deliberations. You have already called one member. He cannot move such a substantive motion when he is making out it is a point of order.


The SPEAKER —The member for Franklin has the call. The member for North Sydney had been called on the basis that he was raising a point of order.


Mr Hockey interjecting


The SPEAKER —Order! The member for North Sydney will have other opportunities. I call the member for Franklin.


Mr Hockey —You’ve nobbled the Speaker!


Mr Albanese —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Manager of Opposition Business just accused me. He said, ‘You’ve nobbled the Speaker.’ Mr Speaker, that is a very serious allegation and a serious reflection on the chair.


The SPEAKER —The member for North Sydney will assist the House if he withdraws that remark.


Mr Hockey —I am happy to withdraw, Mr Speaker.