Citizen's right of reply


Sometimes a person or a corporation objects to a remark made about them by a member during a debate within the Assembly. For instance, a person might believe that their reputation has been damaged, or privacy violated, by what has been said in the chamber.

In these instances, a person or corporation is able to initiate a process called the citizens’ right of reply, which is permitted under the Assembly’s standing orders (Continuing resolution 4).

The process allows a person or corporation to request of the Speaker that a response is entered in the parliamentary record.

How does it work?

If a person or a corporation has been referred to in the Assembly by name or in terms that readily identify the person or corporation and that person/corporation believes that the reference adversely affects them, they are able to write to the Speaker seeking to have a response entered into the parliamentary record.

The Speaker is able to refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure if it meets certain conditions. The Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure is the committee responsible for the internal administration of the Assembly. It is chaired by the Speaker and has members from the government, opposition and crossbench. For the matter to be referred to the committee, the Speaker must be satisfied that:

Considering a submission

If the Speaker refers a submission to the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure, the committee will again assess the matter against the conditions (above) and consider whether or not to proceed. If the committee decides not to consider the submission based on any of these grounds, it will report this to the Assembly.

If the committee decides to consider a submission, it is able to communicate with the person or corporation that made the submission and with any member who referred to the person or corporation in the Assembly.

The committee must consider the submission in a private session.

In considering a submission, the committee is not permitted to assess or to judge if there is any truth in any of the statements that have been made —either in the submission or in the Assembly.

Committee’s report

Once the committee has considered the submission, it is able to make one of the following recommendations in a report to the Assembly:

  1. that no further action is to be taken by the committee or by the Assembly in relation to the submission; or
  2. that a specific and agreed response by the person or corporation who made the submission be published by the Assembly or incorporated in Hansard.

These are the only recommendations the committee may make.

Responding

A response presented to the Assembly must be succinct and strictly relevant to the issue. It must not be offensive, and the statement must meet strict requirements that are outlined in the standing orders.

Guidelines

More information is in the standing orders Continuing resolution 4: Citizens’ Right of Reply.


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