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Dawn Rowan: Documents Relating To This Case

Mike Elliott Leader Australian Democrats Member of the Legislative Council Parliament Index 1999 Spring Session Index Browse by Subject About the SA Parliament Hansard on line


Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. M. J. Elliott:

That this Council notes-

I. The request by former workers of the Christies Beach Women’s Shelter Incorporated to have a statement incorporated into Hansard in accordance with the resolution of the Legislative Council passed on 11 March 1999.

II. The decision by the President of the Council not to allow the statement to be incorporated and expresses its regret with that decision.

The Hon. CAROLYN PICKLES (Leader of the Opposition): The opposition opposes this motion. In my opinion, this is rather a back-door way of the Hon. Mr Elliott trying to criticise a ruling of the President. There are mechanisms to do that: if you wish to oppose the ruling of a President, one can do so. In the last session the President ruled in regard to a sessional order on this particular issue and it was a ruling that the opposition supported because we felt that, in bringing in the sessional order, there was not to be an element of retrospectivity attached to it, in the sense of some numbers of years. The members of parliament who were associated with this issue are no longer in this place and have not been in this place for many years. I think the Hon. Mr Weatherill was on the select committee that was set up at the time to look into this particular issue in some detail, as was the Hon. Gordon Bruce who has since died.

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The Hon. M.J. ELLIOTT: When I moved this motion, I noted that the matter went back some period of time. I also made the point that it was the worst abuse of parliamentary privilege that I think I had ever seen, that that was the reason and that I know that the hurt which was created at that time is still around today. I acknowledge that the one reason I might have considered not treating it was the question of its age, but as I said I think it was such a serious matter that it deserved to be treated under the rules, despite the fact that it was of that age.

I also noted in my introduction that I did not move any motion of dissent to the President’s ruling at the time. Clearly, none of us had seen what was being asked for. But, having subsequently seen the actual submission, I did not use any language in relation to the President or criticise him other than expressing regret within the motion itself. I suppose it is as gently as one can disagree. However, I did disagree because having looked at a copy of the original submission I made the point that there were two brief excerpts, each of a couple of words, which needed to be deleted as they made comments about other individuals. The idea of this process was supposed to be that one can put one’s sid\

e of the story without casting aspersions on anyone else. It seemed to me that the two necessary changes were of a very minor nature.

With those two minor changes made ( and all members have now seen the substance of it), it is something that one would have expected to get up. I have a feeling that the Hon. Trevor Griffin said in his response, `Look, let’s give it a bit more time and get a bit more experience.’ But this is the first time it has been tried and, frankly, I think it failed.

The Hon. T. Crothers: Did you look at the minutes of the select committee?

The Hon. M.J. ELLIOTT: The minutes of the select committee are not relevant to a discussion about-

The Hon. T. Crothers: Oh yes they are. I was on the select committee and I am telling you that they are. I do not want to say more than that. You have not done your homework if you haven’t read them.

The Hon. M.J. ELLIOTT: I was on the committee, too. I make the point again that the proceedings of the select committee are irrelevant to the question of right of reply, which is the issue that is before us right now. I can only express disappointment. I believe that under the formal processes that right of reply should have been available, despite the age of the matter. It did not impugn anybody else. It sought to put in a very straightforward manner another side to allegations, and that is exactly what the process was supposed to be all about. I am disappointed that members other than the other Democrat members have not expressed support.

I hope that, if anyone else suffers a treatment similar to that of the Christies Beach Women’s Shelter, they do not then find that their opportunity to respond might be denied. It might be denied not just on the basis of age because, as I recall, other reasons were given by the President. In fact, the rules do not require the President to give reasons at all. I am trying to make the point as gently as I can-it is not a criticism of just the President. The process still looks as though it has some wrinkles. I would argue that this should have got up and did not.

Motion negatived.


See also Violence (South Australia)



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