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Thursday, 4 October 1984
Page: 1215

Senator WALTERS —Mr Deputy President, I claim to have been misrepresented.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Before I call on the honourable senator I would like to clear up some confusion that seems to exist on the purpose and limitations of what are variously called claims to have been misrepresented and personal explanations. By standing order 408 a senator may, by leave of the Senate, explain matters of a personal nature, but no debate should follow this explanation which should be strictly limited to the explanation of the personal matter concerned.

If a senator claims that something he or she has said in a speech in a debate has been misquoted or misunderstood by a subsequent speaker in the same debate the senator may speak again without leave of the Senate to explain what he meant to say. This is in fact a very limited right to speak a second time in the same debate. This procedure, of course, does not apply to committees where a senator may speak more than once anyway and cannot be exercised once the relevant debate is concluded. Whether a senator is making a personal explanation under standing order 408 or correcting a misunderstanding under standing order 410 the senator must limit himself to the precise nature of the explanation, and should not debate the issue or criticise any other senator.

These are the two provisions for explanations provided by standing orders. They are deliberately made very limited. If a senator wishes to make a more elaborate explanation or initiate debate on these subjects the adjournment debate is an appropriate occasion. I take it, Senator Walters, that you wish to make a personal explanation. Is that correct?

Senator WALTERS —Yes. I claim to have been misrepresented.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —It is a personal explanation you are making. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Senator WALTERS —Yesterday in the debate on the assets test Senator Grimes spoke after me in the debate. On page 1132 of the Hansard Senator Grimes said:

Senator Walters said that I should say in this place that pensioners will be able to convert all their assets to jewellery, that all of that jewellery will be excluded and therefore they would be able to leave it to their children. Of course they would not be able to do that. I have never suggested by way of interjection or any other way that they could do that.

I said:

Oh, you fraud.

Senator Grimes then said:

I have never said that.

I now refer the Senate to page 1131 of the Hansard of 3 October in which I was speaking on the assets test. I said:

What woman would consider her engagement ring, bought for her perhaps 70 years ago by her husband, an asset? Not many. I would never have considered my engagement ring or other jewellery my husband bought me an asset. This Government considers those items an asset.

The following exchange then occurred:

Senator Grimes —That is a lie.

Senator WALTERS —All personal effects will be considered an asset.

At that stage, Mr Deputy President, you made Senator Grimes retract. I went on to say:

If Senator Grimes is saying that I am not telling the truth by including jewellery as an asset I will finish my remarks early to enable him to say so . . . If he is not prepared now to say to the Senate that jewellery is excluded from the assets test-because that is what I am saying; he tells me I am not telling the truth-everything he has claimed by way of interjection is a complete untruth .

It is very obvious that Senator Grimes was not truthful yesterday.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! I will repeat the explanation I gave earlier. Under these personal explanations criticisms must not be made of other senators otherwise we would have a debate with counterclaims going on all the time. You are limited very much along the lines I gave.