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Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Page: 5919


Senator BOSWELL (Queensland) (16:39): Mr President, I refer to standing order 191. Part of my speech was misquoted or misunderstood by Senator Bob Brown and by Senator Ludwig and I seek permission to clarify it.

The PRESIDENT: You need leave.

Senator BOSWELL: I understand I do not leave under standing order 191.

The PRESIDENT: Well, I understand you do. Standing order 191 applies, I am told, only during the actual debate. The debate has terminated. I am suggesting, Senator Boswell, that you need to seek leave.

Senator BOSWELL: Mr President, I seek leave.

Leave not granted.

The PRESIDENT: Senator, 191 allows you to be heard in the debate for a second time.

Senator Ian Macdonald: Mr President, I rise on a point of order. Standing order 191 says this, and I will read it in full:

A senator who has spoken to a question may again be heard, to explain some material part of the senator’s speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood, but shall not introduce any new matter, or interrupt any senator speaking, and no debatable matter shall be brought forward or debate arise ...

Ever since Senator Boswell was clearly misquoted by Senator Brown—and delib­erately I suggest—there have been other people speaking. The words of the standing order clearly make no reference to speaking in the same debate. I am not sure quite where that comes from. It does not say it in the words of the standing order. If you are suggesting to me that there is some precedent that should be followed then I cannot see how any precedent could overcome the clear sense of the words there. Senator Boswell was not able to interrupt any other speaker speaking and ever since he was misquoted other speakers have been speaking and then there was a vote called and he was unable to do it then and he has done it at the very first time that he has possibly had the opportunity to do it. Mr President, I think procedural fairness requires that where Senator Boswell claims to have been misquoted—and I am sure he has been—he should be given the opportunity of putting it on the record.

Senator Bob Brown: On a point of order, Mr President, I ask that Senator Macdonald withdraw the comment that I deliberately misquoted somebody. I did not, and that is a reflection on another member of this place and should be withdrawn.

The PRESIDENT: That should be withdrawn.

Senator Ian Macdonald: I withdraw it, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT: I have sought the advice of the clerk at the table and I must say that on my reading of this, without going to Odgers to look at the immediate precedent, I note it says:

A senator who has spoken to a question may again be heard ...

I am told that the word 'again' implies that is within the context of the debate and that the question has been disposed of by the vote that has just taken place. Secondly, Senator Boswell did seek—I presume under 190, 'Personal explanations'—

Senator BOSWELL: 191.

The PRESIDENT: Yes, but you then sought it by leave. I am interpreting it—say if I am interpreting wrongly—that if you are doing it under 191 leave was not granted. If you are doing it under standing order 190, 'Personal explanations', it says:

By leave of the Senate, a senator may explain matters of a personal nature, although there is no question before the Senate, ...

That is the point that is made in 190. It goes on:

but such matters may not be debated.

Say you had sought that under 190; 190 is by leave.

Senator BOSWELL: I seek leave under standing order 190.

The PRESIDENT: Is leave granted?

Senator Hanson-Young: No.

Senator Ian Macdonald: Mr President, I rise on a point of order. I disagree with your ruling but it is your ruling, although I would urge you not to get too attached to it. In the situation that Senator Boswell has found himself in, can you indicate whether the standing order requires that he cannot interrupt any other senator? In all of the instances in the time since Senator Boswell was misquoted there have been people speaking, so he has had no opportunity until now. There was a vote called and he could not do it then. As soon as the vote was over, he exercised his rights under 191 and was refused. How could anyone who has been misquoted possibly have remedies in this chamber?

The PRESIDENT: I will now assist by going to Odgers:

A senator who has spoken to a question before the Senate may explain, without leave, some part of the senator’s speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood, but may not interrupt a senator speaking or introduce any new or debatable matter (SO 191). This right to correct misquota ­ tions, misunderstandings and, in practice, misre ­ presentations of a senator’s words may be used only where a senator has spoken in a debate, and must be used during that debate or at the conclusion of the debate. It cannot be used to respond to matters in debates which have occurred at an earlier stage in the proceedings. It also cannot be used simply to respond to arguments raised in debate; to use the procedure a senator must claim to be misquoted, misunder ­ stood or misrepresented.

That is the ruling of President Baker. I must say that I would still have to stick with what I had said, Senator Macdonald.

Senator Ian Macdonald: Mr President, you have just read out from Odgers 'or at the conclusion of the debate'.

The PRESIDENT: Yes.

Senator Ian Macdonald: Isn't that now? The debate has been concluded. It has been voted upon and this is the very next opportunity.

The PRESIDENT: The conclusion of the debate is before the vote. I will go away and review that, but that is the best advice I have and my reading of it would warrant me—

Senator Ian Macdonald: How do you get that the debate has concluded?

The PRESIDENT: I am not going to enter into a debate. You have asked me to say what the situation is. I have made it clear what the situation is. The debate had concluded.

Senator Ian Macdonald: Yes, and this is the exact next moment.

The PRESIDENT: No, no. We are now debating the debate.

Senator BOSWELL: Pursuant to contingent notice of motion, I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent me from making a personal explanation.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Boswell.

Senator BOSWELL: Thank you, Mr President. In Senator Brown's amendment to my notice of motion, he said 'Senator Boswell's rejection of the Victoria Police as doing their job'. What I said in the Senate was:

... Victoria Police might do it and they should do it and they have done it—and good luck to them. They have done it efficiently and effectively ...

That is hardly condemning the Victoria Police. It is actually praising the Victoria Police. If Senator Brown had any decency, he would get up and apologise for misquoting me. Senator Ludwig did misquote me but he was going off Senator Brown. I will wait for your apology, too, Senator.

Senator Ludwig interjecting

Senator BOSWELL: I suspect I will not, because you are dead wrong. My personal explanation is that I have been misrepresented. It will be on the record that I have criticised the Victorian police, when in actual fact I have praised the Victoria Police to high heaven.

Question negatived.