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Tuesday, 25 June 1996
Page: 2113


Senator BOB COLLINS(3.40 p.m.) —I rise under standing order 191 to respond to a great many personal reflections which were made during question time but to misunderstandings that were placed on something I said, and I wish to clarify that matter.

In debate just a few moments ago the question was raised about statements which were reportedly given by Senator Parer to a meeting of traditional owners at Kakadu. I mentioned in respect of some of those personal observations that were made across the chamber that I was making this up, that the statements were reported in the news at the time. A press clipping from the Weekend Australian of Saturday, 15 June reads:

Speaking from the Ja Ja mining camp, where the 1982 agreement was signed, Ms Margarula called on the Federal Government to stall the mine until a Senate inquiry examined the social impact—


Senator Hill —Madam Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. If this is supposed to be a personal explanation, it is not a personal explanation.


Senator Faulkner —On the point of order, I understand that Senator Collins is, under standing order 191, giving an explanation of speeches. The standing order is quite clear. It states:

A Senator who has spoken to a question may again be heard, to explain some material part of the Senator's speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood, but shall not introduce any new matter, or interrupt any Senator speaking, and no debatable matter shall be brought forward or debate arise on such an explanation.

I think Senator Collins is speaking within the constraints of the standing order. Madam Deputy President, I would ask you to rule that way.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! As I have understood Senator Collins to this stage, I would think he is complying with standing order 191 and would need to in his remaining seconds.


Senator BOB COLLINS —I will be very brief. I have almost concluded the quote. The article states:

Speaking from the Ja Ja mining camp, where the 1982 agreement was signed, Ms Margarula called on the Federal Government to stall the mine until a Senate inquiry examined the social impact of uranium mining.

In the meantime, she has relied on the words of the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Parer, who told the Kakadu board—


Senator Hill —I am reluctant to intervene, Madam Deputy President, but all the rest of us have to comply—


Senator BOB COLLINS —I have just about finished. I know you are sensitive about this.


Senator Hill —I am not sensitive at all. Come back and do it in the adjournment debate. All the rest of us have to comply with the standing orders.


Senator Faulkner —He is.


Senator Hill —He has given no indication where he has been misquoted or misunderstood. Until he does he has no right at the moment to speak. So I ask you, Madam Deputy President, to apply the standing order to him, to have him indicate where he has been misquoted or misunderstood. Then he will be entitled to correct the misunderstanding or the misstatement that has been previously made.


Senator BOB COLLINS —Very briefly, the misunderstanding, as I explained, was that when I mentioned this article it was asserted by the government benches that I was making it up. I am simply concluding the quote to indicate that was sadly misunderstood. I have now got about 10 seconds to finish the quote.


Senator Hill —Nobody asserted that. Who asserted that?


Senator Faulkner —Herron did.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! It will be a matter to check in the Hansard I would think. But my impression from what Senator Collins said when he initiated this explanation under standing order 191 is that he is in fact complying with the standing order with what he has said. But I shall certainly look at the Hansard to see if I am wrong.


Senator BOB COLLINS —I will finish very quickly. The article continues:

In the meantime, she has relied on the words of the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Parer, who told the Kakadu board of management that the mine would not go ahead without the support of traditional owners.