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The Rules of Debate

A Member desiring to speak in the House must rise and address the Speaker or President, not the House at large or individual Members. The Member is then said to be "in possession of the House". The most important privilege allowed a Member of Parliament is freedom of speech.

In the Legislative Council, Members other than Ministers are referred to by name as the Honourable Mr/Ms ................ In the House of Assembly Members must never be referred to by name, but should be referred to by their district or portfolio: the Honourable Member for Unley, or the Honourable the Minister for Health.

Every speech must be relevant to the question before the House. To prevent endless repetition no Member may allude to any debate of the same session of Parliament upon a question or Bill not then under discussion. No reference may be made in debate in the House of Assembly to the debates or proceedings of the other House; however, the Legislative Council allows quotation from debate in the House of Assembly if it is relevant to the matter under discussion. This rule, which eliminates the opportunity for mutual recrimination, gave rise to the custom by which Members refer to the other House as 'another place'.

In the House, a Member may not speak more than once on any matter except where they have initiated a significant motion or moved the second or third reading of a Bill, in which cases they have the right of reply. In Committee, in the House of Assembly a Member may speak three times to each clause or amendment but in the Legislative Council there is no restriction.

Freedom of Speech & punishment

No legal action can be taken against a Member for anything the Member may say in the House or any Parliamentary Committee. This does not mean that Members in the House can say what they like when they like. The House itself imposes certain restraints upon Members. For example, to protect the impartiality of the Crown, no Member may use the Sovereign's name or the name of the Governor irreverently or to influence debate. The Members may not use offensive words in reference to another Member. The Members may not refer to matters which are sub judice (awaiting the decision of a court of law or a Royal Commission) as this may be likely to prejudice the course of justice.

The Speaker or the President are empowered to "name" a Member and report their offence to the House. A Member may be "named" for persistently or wilfully obstructing the business of the House, refusing to conform to any standing order of the House or refusing to regard the authority of the Chair. If a Member has used objectionable words and refuses to withdraw them and apologise for their use, the Member may also be 'named'. After a Member has been named they may be suspended from the service of the House. During a suspension, a Member may not participate in the debates of the House or vote on any matter.