May 29, 2007

Questions to the Speaker – Question Time

Questions to the Speaker – Question Time

29 May 2007

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (4.39 p.m.)—Mr Speaker, today in question time you warned me for moving a point of order and then proceeded to exclude me, under the provisions of standing orders, for one hour from the House. I draw your attention to the Hansard greens from today, which indicate that my first point of order, and I moved two, was on page 1 of turn 19 of today’s Hansard, and then it goes through to page 4—that is, there are three pages in between when I moved my first point of order and my second point of order. I draw your attention to standing order 131. This is about successive divisions and indicates quite clearly that if there is debate in between time then you cannot have a successive division—that is, if there is business in between a call. It is quite clear from the Hansard that there was considerable business undertaken by the Prime Minister in his response in between page 1 and page 4 of the Hansard. Mr Speaker, my question to you is: on what basis was I warned for moving a point of order when standing orders quite clearly indicate the ability of members to rise at any time and draw your attention to the standing orders?

The SPEAKER—I thank the Manager of Opposition Business for his question. He did take a point of order. I ruled on his point of order. He defied the chair so I took further action.

Mr Price—Mr Speaker, I would like to point out that, under standing order 86, any member has the right to take a point of order. In relation to the question that was being answered by the Prime Minister, I am not sure whether the answer took 11 minutes or eight minutes—in other words, it was a very long and extensive answer. Surely it is appropriate for any member to take a point of order, considering the Prime Minister’s answer, in this case going to relevance. Nowhere in House of Representatives Practice is it suggested that members should be warned for taking a point of order—although I must admit that members can be disciplined for taking frivolous points of order. The person who takes the most points of order in this parliament is the honourable member for Mackellar, who has never been warned.

The SPEAKER—I think that last point was a reflection on the chair. I refer the Chief Opposition Whip to the answer I gave the Manager of Opposition Business.

Mr Price—I apologise. I did not mean to reflect on the chair in anyway. It is just that it is difficult for members on this side of the House to know how they may take an effective point of order on relevance during question time.

The SPEAKER—I refer the member to my previous answer. The Manager of Opposition Business?

Mr Albanese—I seek clarification of your statement that I was warned somehow for dissent or defying the chair.

The SPEAKER—I say to the Manager of Opposition Business that I think I have already answered his question. If he would like to discuss the matter further with me later, I am happy to do so.

Mr Albanese—Mr Speaker, standing order 86 is very clear: a member may raise a point of order with the Speaker at any time.

Mr Abbott—And the Speaker has dealt with it.

Mr Albanese—I am not raising it with you.

The SPEAKER—The Manager of Opposition Business will not debate this. He has read the standing orders. I refer him also to the remarks that the Chief Opposition Whip made a few moments ago.