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Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Page: 1265


Senator BOB BROWN (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (17:05): I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator BOB BROWN: Mr President, your ruling is correct, and your quote on the matter is quite correct. But the Senate needs to reflect that, as far back as 1984, the Privileges Committee noted the possibility that the reputation of senators might be damaged if matters such as this were to continue to be raised. Damage to the reputation of senators was clearly—one has only to look at the Hansard—an outcome of Senator Macdonald's contribution the other night. You are quite right, Mr President, to have called it to order and to have made a breakthrough ruling that it should not happen again.

The Privileges Committee's deliberations at the moment are unprecedented in that there has been no result despite the matter's having been referred to it some three or four months ago. That in itself, in my view, is a travesty, and I am sure that Senator Milne shares that view. Never should this chamber lend itself through its debate system to the sorts of repeated accusations that were earlier referred to the committee.

Your ruling is correct, Mr President, and I hope that it will be implemented in the future so that the behaviour which Senator Macdonald engaged in on Monday night cannot ever be repeated in this Senate.