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Monday, 17 August 2009
Page: 5009

Senator IAN MACDONALD (3:06 PM) —Mr Deputy President, I have a point of order for the President, who has unfortunately left the chamber. As he has left the chamber, perhaps I can raise the point of order and ask you, and perhaps the Clerk, to refer it to him. I raised during question time, and did not want to pursue it further during question time, the provisions relating to the President’s ruling on points of order. Standing order 197(5) quite clearly indicates the President must rule on a point of order. It says, amongst other things:

The President may hear argument on the question, and may determine it forthwith, or at a later time, at the President’s discretion.

I assume, Mr Deputy President, that when the President says to the minister, in answer to a point of order, ‘You have 23 seconds’ that he is intending to come back and rule later, having declined to rule forthwith. It seems to me, Mr Deputy President—it is unfortunate I am saying this to you rather than to the President—that the President must, on every occasion, whether they are valid points of order or otherwise, actually rule and say, ‘Your point of order is upheld’ or ‘It is rejected.’ Simply to tell the minister, in response to a point of order, that the minister has another 23 seconds to answer a question is not a ruling on a point of order. The President has a direct responsibility under the amended standing orders to rule on direct relevance of questions. I would ask that the President come back with an answer to the Senate on his intention of ruling on points of order as they are taken.