Senate debates

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Bills

Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017; In Committee

9:58 am

Photo of Ian MacdonaldIan Macdonald (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Can I be given a chance to talk? I assume that was a point of order. Of course, Senator Pratt didn't say it was a point of order.

The CHAIR: Senator Macdonald, please resume your seat. It was a point of order, and I intend to—

She didn't say that. Can I speak to the point of order?

The CHAIR: No, because that would be debating with Senator Pratt. Let me put what I—

When a point of order is raised, it allows people to have a different view on the point of order.

The CHAIR: Senator Macdonald, please resume your seat.

That's been the ruling for the 27 years that I've been here.

The CHAIR: Senator Macdonald, please resume your seat. It is up to me how many points of order I entertain, and I'm sure that you're aware of that.

Mine is not a point of order. I was talking on her point of order.

The CHAIR: I am going to remind senators in this place that standing order 79 says:

… it is not in order to refer to a senator's religion in debate.

I beg your pardon—it's a ruling of the Senate. Senator Macdonald, when you first started to speak you were fairly general, and then you became more specific. I would ask senators in this place not to reflect on the religion of senators in particular or senators from particular parties. And I ask you, Senator Macdonald, to also not do that.

Which standing order says that?

The CHAIR: I beg your pardon, Senator Macdonald. I inadvertently called it a standing order and then I said it's a ruling.

Which one?

The CHAIR: It's number 79, and it's from President Calvert. It's in Odgers at page 261.

And that says you can't refer to anyone's religion in this chamber?

The CHAIR: I will read it to you. I did read it. Perhaps you were distracted, looking at something else. It says:

… it is not in order to refer to a senator's religion in debate.

That's from President Calvert in 2005, and it's in Odgers, 13th edition, at page 261.

If you listened to me, I haven't referred to anyone's religion. I've referred to the fact that a number of Labor Party people quite openly say that they are not religious, that they are atheists. And in fact Senator Hinch just said he was an atheist.

The CHAIR: Senator Macdonald, please resume your seat! I have explained what I heard you say. I've asked you to consider carefully what you continue to say, because, whilst in the beginning you were fairly general in your comments, you became more specific. This debate has largely been quite respectful. It is a debate, like many we have in this place, that creates a lot of emotion from senators, and I would ask you to continue on without referring to what people may or may not do at the beginning of the Senate.

This chamber should be the bastion of free speech. We used to have free speech in Australia. Senator Hinch, in his contribution, said he was an atheist. Does that mean that you should have stopped Senator Hinch from saying that he was an atheist? I'm not talking about anyone's religion as such.

The CHAIR: I've made my point of view clear. I would ask you to respect that point of view, and I'm now going to go to Senator Pratt, who stood presumably on a point of order.

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