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Monday, 22 March 2004
Page: 26768


Mr LATHAM (Leader of the Opposition) (2:53 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. After all his previous answers today and his attempts to avoid the truth the Australian—


The SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. Preambles are not normally a part of a question, certainly not preambles like that. The Leader of the Opposition will come to his question.


Mr LATHAM —My question is to the Prime Minister. After all his previous answers—


Mr Abbott —Mr Speaker, on a point of order: under the standing orders I simply point out that the Leader of the Opposition made an offensive suggestion and that he should be required to withdraw it.

Opposition members interjecting


The SPEAKER —Order! There are a number of people who seem to have forgotten their status in the House, including the member for Fowler. I listened closely to the Leader of the Opposition's question. I was unhappy about the preamble; I do not believe it contained a reflection that should be withdrawn. It was a preamble that was inappropriate and I asked him to rephrase the question and he was in the process of doing so when he had the call.


Mr LATHAM —After all his previous answers today, is the Prime Minister now expecting the Australian people to believe that the Australian Federal Police Commissioner drafted his clarifying statement on 16 March absolutely alone?


Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I have indicated the processes that were involved in the operation of the government in the context that has taken place. I ask the Australian people to accept the words of the police commissioner himself—not my words, not the words of the Leader of the Opposition, but the words of the police commissioner himself— when he said that he stood by that statement and he had nothing to add to it.