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Wednesday, 4 December 2002
Page: 7154


The PRESIDENT (3:03 PM) —In question time yesterday I was asked to reconsider a ruling I made on a supplementary question put by Senator Wong to the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, Senator Coonan. While her original question asked about Senator Coonan's statements and therefore had some relationship to the minister's ministerial responsibility, Senator Wong's supplementary question was entirely about the tax liability of the property owned by Senator Coonan's husband. It also asked for Senator Coonan's opinion about those matters. As such, the question was out of order and I so ruled. The question had no reference to the minister's ministerial responsibilities.

Senator Cook asked me to consider rulings that he said were made by President Beahan about questions concerning the relatives of senators when a matter involving Senator Richardson was under consideration. Senator Cook appears to be thinking of questions which were asked in 1992 about an allegation that Senator Richardson, while a minister, had pursued private interests with public resources. The questions at that time related to Senator Richardson's actions as a minister. The questions were therefore allowed. There were no rulings by the President of the kind referred to by Senator Cook. On the contrary, President Sibraa stated that the questions were allowed on the basis that they went to the conduct of the minister.