State
State

MP’s sledge might not wash next time

TOUGHER penalties could be on the way for MPs who use discriminatory language on the floor of Queensland Parliament.

Speaker Curtis Pitt has revealed he will ask a powerful parliamentary oversight committee to consider whether simply having to withdraw an offensive remark is punishment enough.

It comes after he decided not to refer shadow treasurer Tim Mander to the ethics committee for comparing Treasurer Jackie Trad to late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's infamous propaganda boss Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, also known as "Comical Ali".

Ms Trad, who is of Lebanese descent, accused Mr Mander of ethnically charged and unparliamentary behaviour over the gibe.

"To compare me to a Middle Eastern dictator, Saddam Hussein, is something that should not be in this chamber," she told the House at the time.

 

Treasurer Jackie Trad labelled the comment racially charged.
Treasurer Jackie Trad labelled the comment racially charged.

 

Mr Mander has denied his comments were ethnically charged.

Mr Pitt tabled his response yesterday, revealing that while he believed Mr Mander's gibe was unparliamentary, it did not amount to contempt under the rules.

"There is little doubt that comments that are discriminatory, or amount to harassment, vilification, and victimisation can also amount to unparliamentary language and/or disorderly conduct," the Speaker wrote in his ruling.

"However the remedy is usually the requirement to withdraw the remarks or, at worst, warning for disorderly conduct.

 

 

"In my view the Legislative Assembly needs to consider whether this is sufficient remedy in a modern parliament.

"I will therefore be referring to the Committee of the Legislative Assembly the question as to whether the Code of Ethical Standards and/or the Standing Orders should be reviewed to ensure freedom of speech in the House or committee is sufficiently balanced against modern social and legal standards regarding discriminatory language, harassment, vilification and victimisation and that appropriate remedies are available with respect to matters that transgress those standards."

Mr Pitt also warned MPs against writing to him about a matter of privilege while at the same time backgrounding or advocating for an issue in the media.

He urged members not to use referrals as a political tactic.



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