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Tuesday, 10 September 1996
Page: 3121


Senator PATTERSON(2.59 p.m.) —Madam President, I have a question I would like to put to you. Following the answer given by the Leader of the Government in the Senate in question time yesterday regarding the riot at Parliament House on 19 August, has the ACTU or have any of the unions involved made any offer to you to—


Senator Faulkner —I raise a point of order, Madam President. It has been the case previously in the chamber that questions have been asked of the President in the Senate during the hour that is allotted for question time. There is, Madam President, as you would be aware, a practice in the House of Representatives—


Senator Knowles —You don't like it, do you?


Senator Faulkner —I do not even know what the question is. I will tell you what we are not going to do, Madam President: we are not going to allow a situation whereby the way the procedures of this place have operated for aeons are changed on a whim. And this question asked at this time, Madam President, is out of order. There is only one way, Madam President, I submit to you that it can be asked, and that is if Senator Patterson seeks leave of all the Senate to allow this question to be asked now. It is incumbent on you, Madam President, to rule this question out of order, given that it has been asked after Senator Hill has asked that further questions be placed on notice.


The PRESIDENT —It is certainly my impression that questions to the President are usually asked at the end of question time and after question time has been concluded. I shall check the record. I believe that to be the case; I have seen it happen.


Senator Robert Ray —On a point of order: it may well have been that, on occasion, a President has been asked a question after question time. It should have been by leave but I can certainly recall, Madam President, questions to the President during question time. Even if it has been allowed in the past, it should have been done by leave, and you should not compound that particular error.


Senator Faulkner —On the point of order, Madam President—


The PRESIDENT —It needs leave to be asked after question time. There is no question about the fact that questions have been asked of the President after question time with leave, Senator.


Senator Faulkner —On a point of order: I put to you, a moment earlier that, for a question to be asked after the Leader of the Government in the Senate has placed questions on notice, it would require leave of all the Senate.


The PRESIDENT —Nobody is arguing with that, Senator.


Senator Faulkner —Thank you, Madam President. If that is the case, I ask you to rule Senator Patterson out of order and ask you to ask her to seek leave.


The PRESIDENT —I do not believe Senator Patterson had enough time to even indicate what she was doing and to ask for leave.


Senator Faulkner —She did not seek leave.


The PRESIDENT —She has not yet sought leave, and I agree with that. If she is to be asking the question, she has to do so.


Senator PATTERSON —Madam President, I presume they do not want me to ask you the question because it is embarrassing to them but I seek leave to ask a question of you.


The PRESIDENT —Is leave granted?

Leave not granted.


The PRESIDENT —Order! I call Senator Woodley.