Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Statement by the President
Honourable senators, yesterday during debate on the second reading of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Bilateral Agreement Implementation) Bill 2014, Senator O'Sullivan took a point of order on a remark by Senator Waters in relation to the Premier of Queensland in which Senator Waters alleged corrupt conduct.
The Temporary Chair of Committees, Senator Smith, did not hear the allegation but asked Senator Waters to withdraw it, which she did. However, Senator Waters then suggested that an inference from the particular circumstances remained. There were further points of order and Senator Waters clarified that she did not assert that the Premier had personally received any money.
I remind honourable senators that standing order 193(3) protects members of other houses, including state parliaments, against offensive words, imputations of improper motives and personal reflections. All such remarks are considered highly disorderly. It is clearly disorderly to make a direct assertion of corruption. An inference linking receipt of funds or in-kind support with particular action invites certain conclusions and may also offend the prohibition against personal reflections. Consideration of the proof Hansard shows that Senator Waters sailed dangerously close to doing so but, having clarified what she meant, was allowed to continue by the chair.
I remind all senators of the need for courtesy in debate in accordance with the standing orders. I also remind senators of the need to listen to and respect the chair.