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Thursday, 11 March 1999
Page: 3803

Mr ALLAN MORRIS —I have a question for you, Mr Speaker.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —Members on my left. The member for Newcastle—who, at my last glance, was one of their group—is denied the call waiting for some silence. He is not being helped right now by the frontbench of the government, either.

Mr ALLAN MORRIS —Mr Speaker, I have a question to you seeking guidance. Early in your term you indicated that you hoped to reduce the level of scorn and derision in the chamber. On at least three occasions today I felt that was needed. I wish to ask whether or not you wish us to bring it to your attention, or do you intend to invoke it yourself? I am quite happy to raise points of order on scorn and derision when I consider that has happened, but I will be leaving it to you to apply your own standards.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Newcastle has been in this chamber for precisely the same period of time as I. In that period of time he will have witnessed, regrettably, a great deal of scorn and derision. My observation is that the standards in this chamber are something of which we could all be tolerably proud. I have noticed that the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition all exercise a great deal of understanding of the forms of the place and of the need to raise the standard, and I intend to be part of that.

Honourable members interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —I will not tolerate the nonsense that I am about to have exhibited by, it would seem to me, the member for Boothby, the member for Fairfax and members on my left. I have indicated that we want to raise the standard, and the sort of derision that just emerged—that has been further aggravated by the member for Melbourne—is the very thing that we need to resist. I am doing what I can and so, frankly, I notice, are most members. If anything, I am encouraged rather than discouraged by what is happening in the chamber.

Mr SPEAKER —I call the Minister for Forestry and Conservation.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Watson is warned, and I point out to all members in the House the very comment we were making about standards was eroded by their reaction when I called the Minister for Forestry and Conservation.

Mr Leo McLeay —On a point of order, Mr Speaker, could you tell me what I was just warned for?

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Watson will resume his seat. The member for Watson just had an interjection that was anything but appropriate under the circumstances.

Mr Leo McLeay —If you feel like apologising to me I will let you get away with it, because I said nothing.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Watson.

Mr Leo McLeay —I said nothing.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —Order! If the member for Watson as the Chief Opposition Whip cares to discover among those of his colleagues who was responsible for the statement which I alleged he made, then that is entirely his business. I have, however, made it perfectly clear that I genuinely believe he made the statement and, if he did not make the statement, then I regret the fact that I called him in error. But there would have been a number of occasions when he ought to have been called here.

Mr Leo McLeay —I take it, Mr Speaker, that you are withdrawing your warning, then.

Mr SPEAKER —I most certainly am not withdrawing my warning. The member for Watson is well aware, as a former occupant of this chair, that his comments to the chair when he thought I had warned him unadvisedly were not the sort of comments he ought to have made to any occupant of the chair.

Mr Leo McLeay —Mr Speaker, by warning me, you have put me on notice that I will be named.

Mr SPEAKER —I have indeed.

Mr Leo McLeay —And you have put me on notice that I will be named for something that I have not done.

Mr SPEAKER —No, that is not so.

Mr Leo McLeay —You know I have not done it, I know I have not done it, the House knows I have not done it, and in good faith you should withdraw the warning that you know is wrong.

Mr SPEAKER —I will not enter any further into this conversation. The member for Watson was not warned for the remark he made.

Mr Leo McLeay —What!

Mr SPEAKER —He was warned for the way in which he reacted to the chair's ruling following that remark.

Mr Leo McLeay —You're joking!

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Watson will excuse himself from the service of the House under 304A.

Mr Leo Mcleay —With great pleasure.

The honourable member for Watson thereupon withdrew from the chamber.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Watson is named.

Motion (by Mr Reith) proposed:

That the member for Watson be suspended from the service of the House.

Mr Beazley —Mr Speaker, I ask you to use your—

Government members —Sit down!

Mr Beazley —The Speaker is in control of this place.

Mr Pyne interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I warn the member for Sturt.

Mr Beazley —Mr Speaker, we on this side of the House would agree that your use of 304A was entirely appropriate at that point, given what was slung at you by the honourable member for Watson. However, that statement on leaving is of a piece with statements made from time to time by people who have been put out. I have heard them once or twice. The use of 304A was sufficient punishment, given the circumstances which provoked that outburst for which you suspended him for that brief period of time. In those circumstances, given that you made an error—albeit a genuine error; we understand that—about who it was who produced the original cause for your displeasure with the member for Watson, I ask that you consider withdrawing the naming.

Mr SPEAKER —I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his counsel but I am tired of members being discharged from the House under 304A and offering the chair advice as they leave. My ruling stands.

Question put.

The House divided. [3.30 p.m.]

(Mr Speaker—Mr Neil Andrew)

Ayes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77

Noes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64


Majority . . . . . . . . . . . . 13


Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Watson is suspended from the service of the House for 24 hours.