Jun 19, 2007

Questions to the Speaker – Office of the Speaker

Questions to the Speaker – Office of the Speaker

19 June 2007

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (3.25 p.m.)—Mr Speaker, my question to you relates to an article in the Australian on 1 May 2007 entitled ‘Bishop’s last crack at Speaker’s chair’. In this article, Mrs Bishop’s spokesperson is quoted as confirming that she wanted the Speaker’s chair if the coalition won the election:

“That is first and foremost in her mind,” he said.

Mr Speaker, I refer you to pages 195-197 of House of Representatives Practice and to a previous occasion on which the issue was raised of whether indeed there had been a breach of privilege against the high office of the Speaker. That comes from a question on page 844 of the Hansard of 5 March 1992, from the member for Bennelong to the then Speaker, the member for Grayndler. The comments are on privilege—

Mr McGauran—Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. This is an abuse of process in that, firstly, it is not a question to you; it is weaving an argument. Secondly, it is a use of the question to make a political point. I might very well ask you why the honourable member for Grayndler is regarded as a hopeless tactician by a number of his colleagues.

The SPEAKER—Order! The Deputy Leader of the House will resume his seat. I call the Manager of Opposition Business. He is making a very long question and I would ask him to come to his question.

Mr ALBANESE—On the matter of privilege: on 5 March 1992 the member for New England made a submission that I draw to your attention, which was the following about the then Speaker. I am asking whether this should be referred to the Privileges Committee. I quote:

… first, there is a matter of deals and an allegation that deals affecting your position are implied, suggested or impugned against the integrity of your high office; secondly, there is a hint of no-confidence in your own capability … and, thirdly, the whole nature and character of any challenge against you is one which really threatens very much the capacity you would have to impartially administer the rules and the Standing Orders of this Parliament.

Given that this was the view of the now Prime Minister, the member for Bennelong, and the member for New England, can you examine the article regarding the member for Mackellar’s hunting down of your position and make a decision over whether it should be referred to the Privileges Committee?

The SPEAKER—I say to the Manager of Opposition Business that it is not for the Speaker to provide an opinion on a question of privilege. If he wishes to raise a matter of privilege then he should do so in the appropriate form.

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler)—Mr Speaker, under standing orders 51 and 52, I wonder could you examine the matters I raised before to determine whether there is a prima facie case of privilege?

The SPEAKER—Again, I appreciate the point that the Manager of Opposition Business is raising but he must either formally raise a matter of privilege—

Mr Albanese—I just have.

The SPEAKER—You have? That is a formal raising. I will examine the points raised and look at it further.

Mr Albanese—In support of this matter, I table the Australian article of 1 May 2007 ‘Bishop’s last crack at Speaker’s chair’.