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Thursday, 29 May 2003
Page: 15473

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (3:00 PM) —My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs. Does the minister stand by his statement to the House yesterday that both he and the other minister with whom he checked, who I understand to be Minister Abbott, have `no knowledge' of any donations being made at that particular function at Romeo's Restaurant?

Dr Southcott —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order: standing order 142 says that questions should relate to the area of a minister's responsibility. Page 526 of House of Representatives Practice shows that Speakers in the past have ruled out questions which relate to the actions, activities and statements by a minister's own party. It therefore follows that every part of this question so far has been out of order, and I ask you to rule it out of order.

The SPEAKER —The member for Boothby makes a point of order that I was about to make. Members will be aware that on, I think, Tuesday the member for Fraser raised the question of ministerial responsibility and party matters. I subsequently reported back to him and the member for Lilley the House of Representatives Practice comments reinforced by the member for Boothby. I do not believe that donations at a particular function could be deemed the business of either the minister for workplace relations or the minister for immigration.

Mr Latham —Mr Speaker, on the point of order, I think you will find that the question goes to an answer that the minister provided yesterday. His having provided an answer in the House of Representatives yesterday, very clearly it is a matter of ministerial responsibility and proper accountability to the House to ask the minister whether he stands by those remarks just yesterday.

The SPEAKER —I stand by my earlier comments that I cannot see how donations at a party function are the business of a minister or a member of the executive. In that context, the question is not in order and would need to be rephrased.

Mr Swan —Mr Speaker, on the point of order, the shadow minister's question related directly to an answer given in this House yesterday by the minister.

The SPEAKER —The member for Lilley will resume his seat. I am very happy to deal with what he regards as anomaly. In fact, of course, it related to a question that was much broader than the specific matter of donations.