House debates

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Statement by the Speaker

Dress Code

3:13 pm

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Yesterday the Manager of Opposition Business asked me to investigate why a journalist had been asked to leave the press gallery during question time as a result of her standard of dress. I should mention first—and I'll take members through this if they can be patient—that the standard of dress for members in the chamber is a matter for the individual judgement for each member, although ultimate discretion rests with the Speaker, as you know.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I ought to be able to respond to this point without catcalling, frankly. It will take about a minute, or if you keep doing that it will take five minutes. Just take a chance and listen to every word I have to say.

I should mention first that the standard of dress for members in the chamber is a matter for the individual judgement of each member, although ultimate discretion rests with the Speaker. For those who queried that, it is very well written up in Practice. I'm sorry it's news to them. Previous speakers have indicated that members should dress in a formal manner in keeping with business and professional standards. These standards have been codified in the media rules for journalists attending the chambers and they have been published and they have tabled, I believe. Paragraph 5.14 of the media rules states: 'When in the chambers, press gallery members should maintain the standards of dress adopted by the majority of senators and members.' The rules continue: 'In the House of Representatives this may include a shirt with a collar, jacket and trousers, for men, and a similar standard of formality for women.'

Questions about whether dress meets the standard are inevitably matters of judgement. In this case, and having regard to the attire of members generally, the journalist in question was attired in a way which would be reasonably considered as professional business attire. She should, in hindsight, not have been asked to leave. Any future review of the media rules may wish to reconsider the best way to describe the chamber dress code for journalists. In the interim, I've asked that the definition of 'formal business attire' for female journalists in the chamber be applied having regard to the attire of members generally. I thank the House.

3:16 pm

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, thank you for your remarks in relation to this matter. Given your statement, I'd like to apologise on behalf of this side of the House to Ms Karvelas for being ejected yesterday from the press gallery.