Feb 28, 2007

Question Time – Questions without notice and Speaker’s ruling

Question Time – Questions without notice and Speaker’s Ruling

28 February 2007

Mr Abbott – Members opposite do not like hearing about Dr Death, but the Courier-Mail of 2 September—

Mr Albanese—Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Standing order 64 refers to no member being referred to by name. Standing order 89 refers to offensive words not being used against members of the parliament. Standing order 90—

The SPEAKER—The member will resume his seat. I was listening carefully to the minister and I have not heard him use an offensive word, nor have I heard him refer to a member by other than his title or his electorate. The minister is in order.

Mr ABBOTT—I am quoting from the Courier-Mail of 2 September 1995, which says:

Mr Rudd— that is, the Leader of the Opposition— acknowledged the nickname Dr Death, lovingly bestowed by some Queensland public servants.

He acknowledged the nickname himself. I am quoting from the Courier-Mail.

Mr Albanese—Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Perhaps the lying rodent should call him into line.

The SPEAKER—The Manager of Opposition Business will withdraw that offensive remark.

Mr Albanese—No, I will not.

The SPEAKER—The Manager of Opposition Business is well aware that that expression is unparliamentary and he will withdraw it.

Mr Albanese—I will behave consistently, Mr Speaker.

The SPEAKER—The Manager of Opposition Business will withdraw that statement.

Mr Albanese—I withdraw, in accordance with your request. I would ask you to apply the same rules to the member opposite, the Minister for Health and Ageing.

The SPEAKER—The Manager of Opposition Business will withdraw without reservation.

Mr Albanese—I withdraw.

The SPEAKER—I thank the Manager of Opposition Business.

Mr Albanese—I have a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can we ensure that that ruling is applied to both sides?

The SPEAKER—I will endeavour to uphold the standing orders, as I always do.

Mr ABBOTT—To quote the Courier-Mail, the Leader of the Opposition:

… acknowledged the nickname Dr Death, lovingly bestowed by some Queensland public servants.

Mr Albanese—Mr Speaker, on a point of order—

The SPEAKER—The minister is in order.

Mr ABBOTT—I am quoting his own words from the Courier-Mail.

The SPEAKER—The Manager of Opposition Business, is this a further point of order?

Mr Albanese—Yes, Mr Speaker. I was quoting Senator Brandis. That is who I was quoting.

The SPEAKER—The member will resume his seat and he will not debate his point of order.

Mr Albanese interjecting—

The SPEAKER—The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat.

Mr Albanese—I ask that it be withdrawn.

The SPEAKER—The Manager of Opposition Business would be well aware that I read a statement into the House later this week on this very issue. The minister is in order.

Mr ABBOTT—My point is that the Leader of the Opposition revelled in this particular nickname. He is quoted in the article as saying:

You know, it could have been worse. I could have been called Morticia, Rasputin or Pol Pot. These are nicknames that the Leader of the Opposition used to describe himself. I say this to the Australian people: whether it is Dr Death or Pol Pot, do not trust him with the health system.

Mr Albanese—Pull him up! Pull him up!

The SPEAKER—The member for Grayndler is warned!

Speaker’s Rulings

The SPEAKER—I again thank the member for Brisbane. It is not the role of the chair to give hypothetical rulings, but I will read to him part of what I said in the House on Monday:

The determination as to whether words used in the House are offensive or disorderly rests with the chair, and the chair’s judgment depends on the nature of the word and the context in which it is used.

Mr ALBANESE (3.20 pm)—Further to that issue, I have a question to you and I refer to page 499 of House of Representatives Practice. It states quite clearly:

A Member is not allowed to use unparliamentary words by the device of putting them in somebody else’s mouth or in the course of a quotation.

I believe that is what the Leader of the House has attempted to do, and I seek leave to table the article from the Courier-Mail of 1 September 2004 in which Senator Brandis is alleged to have called the Prime Minister ‘a lying rodent’ and an article from ABC Online of 31 August 2004 which is titled, ‘“Lying rodent” claim exposes children overboard rift’. Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER—Order! The member will not debate his point. If he is raising a question he will come straight to his question.

Mr ALBANESE—Yes, Mr Speaker. I will refer to some standing orders, if that is okay.

The SPEAKER—No, the member is not going to debate this. He will come straight to his question.

Mr ALBANESE—Well, can I refer to standing orders in doing so? That is something the Leader of the House has never done, ever—not once.

The SPEAKER—The member will either come to his question or resume his seat.

Mr ALBANESE—Mr Speaker, standing order 89 and standing order 90 are very clear, and today you actually asked the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations to refer to the member for Rankin by—

The SPEAKER—The member will either come to his question or resume his seat.

Mr ALBANESE—his name. You then allowed the Leader of the House to make comments. You then asked me to withdraw, which I did consistently.

The SPEAKER—We are not going to debate past decisions.

Mr ALBANESE—Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER—The member for Grayndler will resume his seat and I will respond to him. On Monday, I made a statement where I referred specifically to all of the issues that the member for Grayndler just raised. I refer him back to that statement because I think it covers everything that he has just raised.