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Wednesday, 19 March 1980
Page: 779

Senator Teague addressing a question to the A Attorney-General-

Senator Keeffe - I raise a point of order. Mr President, the honourable senator is defying your ruling again, except in a slightly more subtle way.

The PRESIDENT - I am listening very intently to the question. There shall be no reflection on a member of the judiciary. Reference can be made to a judgment in a critical way, provided it is couched in proper parliamentary language. I will pay close attention to that.

Senator Cavanagh - I wish to speak to the point of order. The accusation is that serious damage has been done by a justice of a court. If he has done serious damage, surely he should be charged with murder or some other crime. One could not say anything more defamatory of him.

The PRESIDENT - It is a reflection on the honourable gentleman. I ask the honourable senator to be extremely cautious in the wording that he uses.

Senator Teague - I will seek to follow your ruling, Mr President. I am not seeking to make any personal reflection on any member of the judiciary; I am speaking of the outcome of the decisions, which have brought about serious damage.

Senator Wheeldon - Mr President,I rise to a point of order. 1 do not think that one can circumvent the forms of the Senate by saying 'I do not wish to reflect on a judge', and then reflecting on the judge. If one makes the allegation that the judge, in his capacity as such, has brought down wrong or disastrous decisions one is reflecting on him as a judge. It has been ruled before that this can be dealt with only by way of a substantive motion and not by way of a question.

The PRESIDENT - I am watching very closely what is being said because it is important that we do not cast reflections on members of the judiciary. If you do so, Senator Teague, I will have to ask you to cease putting your question.

Senator Teague - I speak of an outcome of serious damage to public confidence in the soundness of the arbitration and conciliation process and I speak of an outcome of serious damage to the public interest, let alone the livelihood of employers and employees, because of such dislocations as the Telecom strike last year -

The PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Teague, put your question directly. Ask for the information that you require.

Senator Teague continuing to address his question to the Attorney-General-

The PRESIDENT - Order! I will not allow Question Time to be used in this way.

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