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Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Page: 144

Racial Discrimination Act 1975

Mr BURKE (WatsonManager of Opposition Business) (15:00): My question is to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, in an earlier answer, said there were no current plans to change the wording of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, but he did not endorse the wording which is currently in place and has been in place for more than 20 years. Can the Prime Minister provide any example of a comment that is currently prohibited by 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act that the government believes should be permitted? Will the Prime Minister rule out any change this term?

Ms Collins interjecting

The SPEAKER: I remind the member for Franklin she has been warned. The Leader of the House on a point of order.

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, you may already have been about to rule on this question, but the point is that under the current standing orders he cannot ask the Prime Minister for a legal opinion, and clearly he is asking him for a legal opinion.

The SPEAKER: On the point of order, the standing orders do prohibit questions asking a legal opinion. The mere absence of the words 'legal opinion' does not make the question in order. I am going to give the Manager of Opposition Business a chance to rephrase his question, but at the moment—

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House will cease interjecting.

Mr BURKE: I have asked about the government policy under the current act.

The SPEAKER: I have ruled on the point of order. In my judgement, it does ask a legal opinion, certainly in the second half. I have offered an opportunity to rephrase the question. I am not going to have a negotiation. If you would like to rephrase the question, rephrase it, otherwise we will move on.

Mr BURKE: Will the Prime Minister rule out any changes to the Racial Discrimination Act this term?

A government member interjecting

The SPEAKER: I have given him an opportunity to rephrase the question. He has rephrased it.

Mr Pyne: Under the standing orders, of course, supplementary questions are not allowed. Clearly that question is so diametrically different to the question he was going to ask that he must think it is a supplementary question. Therefore, it cannot be in order because supplementary questions are not in order.

The SPEAKER: It is not a supplementary question, because there was not a question that was answered that would allow a supplementary question. The Manager of Opposition Business has asked his question.

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (15:03): I repeat what I said to the member for Isaacs: the government has no plans to change section 18C.