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Thursday, 27 November 2008
Page: 7441


The PRESIDENT (9:30 AM) —Yesterday at question time I undertook to consider points of order which were raised in relation to remarks by Senator Evans about the Treasurer of Western Australia. It was put to me that Senator Evans’s remarks were contrary to standing order 193. Paragraph 3 of that standing order provides:

A senator shall not use offensive words against either House of Parliament or of a House of a state or territory parliament, or any member of such House, or against a judicial officer, and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on those Houses, members or officers shall be considered highly disorderly.

I must say that if that provision were applied in the strictness of its terms, a great many remarks made about members of other houses could be ruled out of order. The practice followed by the chair and by the Senate in recent years is that criticism of a member of another house is not contrary to the standing order unless accusations of dishonesty or illegality, or something else of that degree of seriousness, are made against such a member.

Having considered the transcript of the remarks made by Senator Evans, I think that, even given the general practice to which I have referred, those remarks came very close to contravening the standing order as it applies to a member of another house. I would ask all senators to keep the provisions of the standing order in mind and to moderate their language when referring to members of other houses.