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Tuesday, 16 September 2003
Page: 20151

The SPEAKER (3:41 PM) —On Monday of last week, the member for Chisholm asked me a question about the use of mobile phones for text messaging during question time. The member sought clarification of what use of text messaging was permissible under the standing orders. As with many issues, the use of mobile phones is not expressly addressed in the standing orders. Successive Speakers have enforced the view that members, and indeed other persons, are prohibited from speaking on mobile phones in the chamber. In taking this view, the clear intention has been to prevent disruption to proceedings of the House. In particular, this prohibition reinforces the rules for the orderly conduct of proceedings to ensure that the member with the call is shown the courtesy she or he is entitled to expect and is not disturbed or interrupted by a mobile phone ringing or a person talking on a mobile phone.

Text messaging on mobile phones falls within the same category of activity as sending and receiving email messages on laptops. Members and advisers are permitted to use laptop computers in the chamber and, similarly, they may use mobile phones for text messaging. There is one caution that must be observed by users of text messaging in the chamber: users must avoid having mobile phones close to a live microphone, as to do so may cause disruption to the sound reinforcement and broadcasting in the chamber. As I mentioned to the member for Chisholm on Monday, I have not been aware of proceedings being interrupted by text messaging. Should this situation change I will, of course, be obliged to reconsider the issue.