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Notice given 14 March 2002

Leader of the Australian Democrats (Senator Stott Despoja): To move—That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) on 13 March 2002 the Deputy President ruled that Senator Heffernan’s speech on the address-in-reply debate on 12 March 2002 was in breach of standing order 193, in that it contained offensive words, imputations of improper motives and personal reflections on a judicial officer,

(ii) the ruling noted that Senator Heffernan’s speech was so structured that it was impossible for the Chair to detect that the speech was in breach of the standing orders until the very end of the speech,

( iii ) the nature of that speech strongly suggests that this breach of the standing orders was premeditated and deliberate,

(iv) resolution 9 of the Senate’s Privilege Resolutions enjoins senators to take the following matters into account in speaking in the Senate:

( a ) the need to exercise their valuable right of freedom of speech in a responsible manner,

( b ) the damage that may be done by allegations made in Parliament to those who are the subject of such allegations and to the standing of Parliament,

( c ) the limited opportunities for persons other than members of Parliament to respond to allegations made in Parliament,

( d ) the need for senators, while fearlessly performing their duties, to have regard to the rights of others, and

( e ) the desirability of ensuring that statements reflecting adversely on persons are soundly based,

(v) the content and nature of Senator Heffernan’s speech strongly suggests that the speech was made in premeditated and deliberate disregard of the matters set out in that resolution, and

(vi) these circumstances raise the question whether Senator Heffernan has been guilty of a contempt of the Senate by committing a premeditated and deliberate breach of the rules of the Senate compounded by wilful disregard of those rules; and

(b) refers the following matter to the Committee of Privileges:

Whether Senator Heffernan committed a contempt of the Senate in making his speech on 12 March 2002 in the address-in-reply debate.