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Thursday, 6 April 2000
Page: 15453

Ms ROXON (3:22 PM) —Mr Speaker, I have a question to you and it is in regard to comments made by the Minister for Forestry and Conservation during question time. My question to you is whether it is appropriate parliamentary behaviour for ministers in this government to issue challenges to Labor backbenchers to step outside to resolve their disputes.

Honourable members interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —In common with a number of my predecessors, there are occasions—not many—when I am disappointed with the level of exchange across the chamber, and there have been a few of those occasions this afternoon. As a general rule, I think most members endeavour to be civil to each other. I congratulate both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition on the general effort that is made to raise the standards in the chamber. I did not hear what the Minister for Forestry and Conservation had to say. There frequently are occasions when, because of the position of this chair, occupiers have found it difficult to hear those who are in what is loosely known as the horseshoe.

It is expected by all of those who elect us here that we will treat each other with civility. This is, after all, a place for debate. It is a place in which various points of view are expected to be able to be heard, whether we like them or not, without interruption. There are members on both sides who sometimes fail to meet what should be that automatic dictum of the House. I would plead on behalf of all occupants of the chair for a continued rise in standards.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —I did not respond directly to the question since it was the sort of comment that I have heard in this place before. I did not think it was an appropriate remark, nor did I think it was a remark that required any direct response from the chair.

An incident having occurred in the gallery

Mr SPEAKER —While I am on my feet, the same obligations as apply to all of those in the chamber apply to those who are in the gallery. I ask that the person in the gallery resume her seat or that instead she be taken from the gallery.

An incident having occurred in the gallery

Mr SPEAKER —Remove that person from the gallery.