House debates

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Questions to the Speaker

Question Time

3:40 pm

Photo of Roger PriceRoger Price (Chifley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, in question time the Deputy Prime Minister rose and sought to have a remark made by the member for Dickson withdrawn and it was withdrawn. I am not sure of the status of Twitter, but clearly if one reflects on a ruling of yours in this House or in a publication outside this House it is highly disorderly. On Twitter, the member for Dickson reflects on your ruling by suggesting that the remark he made was hardly ‘grossly unparliamentary’ as the Deputy Prime Minister claimed. Mr Speaker, I contend that, if members in this House are going to use Twitter, the same restrictions should apply to Twitter as they do to other publications and that this constitutes a reflection on your ruling about the withdrawal.

Photo of Harry JenkinsHarry Jenkins (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

If members were to actually read House of Representatives Practice, they would know that these things are of moment. The member for O’Connor has been here long enough to remember that the only thing that was available to members who felt aggrieved by the rulings of Speakers was to go out on the doors and make comments. The electronic age has allowed for other methods of comment. At the time, because of the reaction of the Deputy Prime Minister to a remark that I did not hear, I accepted that it was appropriate that the member be asked to withdraw. The withdrawal was made immediately and without qualification. If there is to be this continuing critique of my performance on a fairly public social network, perhaps I had better update my skills to look at that social network, but I think at this stage I will accept what happened in the chamber as being the conclusion. However, I think this illustrates that these very powerful social networks do allow us all to perhaps read people’s minds and listen to their inner thoughts.