Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr ROCKLIFF
You understand how important parliamentary privilege is to the work of members of parliament. It is a legal convention of Westminster parliaments that reaches back almost 400 years and a vital part of what makes us able to effectively do our jobs. The responsible exercise of privilege has exposed corruption and malfeasance in public office, as it did when the Queensland opposition named up the late corrupt police commissioner, Terry Lewis, in parliament, which led to the Fitzgerald Inquiry and a long overdue clean-up of Queensland's deeply rotten police service.
Yesterday, in response to a letter from Equal Opportunity Commissioner Sarah Bolt, you flagged a review of the Standing Orders, presumably to drive changes that prevent us from naming any senior public servants, whether they are doing their jobs properly or not. Will you today rule out any changes to the Standing Orders that weaken parliamentary privilege?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I have no intention of weakening parliamentary privilege. It is not my call. It would be up to others around the Standing Orders Committee to discuss these matters.
What I want is robust but respectful debate. We can come in here and argue passionately, as we often do, as we have different points of view and we represent the entirety of the Tasmanian community because the Tasmanian community put us here. They expect us to not only be vigorous in our debate and our advocacy for them and the services they quite thoroughly deserve, but they also expect us to be civil to each other, to not be bullies, to not abuse each other, and to have a respectful debate. That is what I have always believed in, in my 21 years in this place. We should always see the standard of behaviour in this House be more respectful.
Ms O'Connor - Well, look behind you.
Mr Ferguson - She's pointing.
Ms O'Connor - Yes, you.
Mr Ferguson - Biggest bully in the place.
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Ferguson does not think the rules apply to him, but he repeatedly abuses me and calls me names. I ask him to withdraw it and never say it again, because it is in fact people who are prone to bullying who tend to use the word in relation to others. If Mr Ferguson does not want to be viewed that way, I ask him to withdraw it immediately, and never use that word again.
Mr FERGUSON - Mr Speaker, I did say that and I withdraw it.
Mr ROCKLIFF - As I say, I expect robust and vigorous political debate in this House, but standards of behaviour and common decency and respect to each other should not be sacrificed in the process.