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Tuesday, 24 June 2003
Page: 17336

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (6:14 PM) —Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.

The SPEAKER —Does the member for Reid claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON —I do, Mr Speaker.

The SPEAKER —The member for Reid may proceed.

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON —Today the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations made a number of allegations concerning my claimed contact with Liberal fundraiser, Mr Karim Kisrwani, a close friend of the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs. The preposterous and desperate claim was made that I had approached Mr Kisrwani to help me stack the branches of the Labor Party's Parramatta electorate for Mr David Borger for the ALP preselection.

I make the following points. I have indeed never approached Mr Kisrwani about these matters. I have never had a conversation with him about these matters. I have no knowledge of any ALP membership applications organised by Mr Kisrwani. I have checked with the New South Wales branch of the Labor Party this afternoon regarding the membership number supplied by the minister; namely, 991484. This person is identified as Mr Ahmed El Dirani, 87 Wharf Road, West Ryde. He resides in the Prime Minister's electorate and not in the Parramatta electorate. I have no recollection of ever having met this person in my life.

I have been advised that, since joining the ALP, Mr El Dirani has had his Labor Party membership fees deducted from his credit card. He continues to hold head office membership, entitling him to no voting rights whatsoever in ALP preselections. I have also been told that Mr El Dirani's membership dates from approximately May 1999. Labor Party preselections, which were held in October 2000, required a full two years membership for voting rights in those preselections.

The SPEAKER —The member for Reid will be aware that he has now been shown more generosity than would normally be extended in a personal explanation, and I ask him to come to the point where he has been misrepresented.

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON —The Leader of the House must now apologise to me and to the House for misleading the parliament earlier today in question time.

Mr Martin Ferguson —You're gutless. Why don't you get up and apologise?

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Batman!

Mr Latham —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order under standing order 303. The member for Reid has outlined the completely objectionable words mentioned by the Leader of the House in question time. These words are false—

The SPEAKER —I am very reluctant—

Mr Latham —and they have caused the member for Reid enormous offence.

The SPEAKER —Order!

Mr Latham —I would ask you to—

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Werriwa will resume his seat! Must the member for Werriwa be taught a lesson in common courtesy? I simply sought to interrupt him and he persisted in addressing the House. I advise the member for Werriwa that my desire to interrupt him was in fact in his interests. He had indicated to me that he wanted to draw my attention to standing order 303. They were the words he used. As far as I am aware, standing order 303 refers entirely to the expulsion of members from the House, and for that reason I sought to interrupt him. I am happy to recognise the member for Werriwa but I do not appreciate his persistence in speaking over the chair, as he must understand.

Mr Latham —I was just trying to finish my point of order, Mr Speaker.

The SPEAKER —That is not the point, is it, member for Werriwa? If the Speaker is addressing the House, no-one finishes their point of order on either side of the chair. The member for Werriwa now has the call.

Mr Latham —The convention in the House is that a member who has taken offence at words used by another member has the right to have those words withdrawn and an apology given. A terrible slur was placed against the member for Reid during question time earlier today. The member for Reid has outlined the extent of the offence that he has taken at these false allegations by the Leader of the House. The member for Reid has asked for an apology from the Leader of the House, and it would be within the normal conventions of this House, the objectionable words having been spoken and the member for Reid having cleared his name and clarified the matter for the House, for you to now require the Leader of the House to withdraw and apologise.

The SPEAKER —As the member for Werriwa is aware, standing order 303 refers entirely to the question of disorder and those actions of disorder which the chair uses as a reason for naming a person. For that reason I interrupted the member for Werriwa when he referred specifically to standing order 303. The member for Reid has had the opportunity to indicate where he has been misrepresented. There is no further action that is necessary or available to me or that I feel is appropriate. I have allowed the member for Reid to indicate where he has been misrepresented. That is entirely right and proper. If I were to act solely on what the member for Werriwa rightly calls `outrageous slurs' I would be a very busy Speaker indeed in dealing with people under standing order 303. The facility for dealing with people who have been misrepresented has been allowed to the member for Reid and has been exercised by the member for Reid.