In Politics

Victor P Taffa

What was the real reason behind the ejection from the House of NSW Opposition leader Barry O’Farrell?

When NSW Opposition leader was removed from the Parliament for an unannounced period of time Speaker Richard Torbay opened up questions that require some answers.

On March 5 2009 during a debate on Child Protection laws Mr. O’Farrell rose on a short series of points of orders that were ruled out of order by the Speaker.

According to Hansard Mr. O’Farrell attempted to raise legitimate questions of the Premier when he was hastily frogmarched from the chamber by the Serjeant-at-Arms at the directive of the Speaker.

Normally the ejection from Parliament of a member does not raise any unusual questions however does the real reason have anything to do with correspondence to the Speaker of an unseemingly unrelated matter?

In a letter dated 23 February 2009 and sent 26 February 2009 to Speaker Torbay a community based organisation asked if the portrait of The Queen

‘Be restored to a place of prominence at the public entrances of the Parliament’.

A petition regarding this issue was also taken up.

Having spoken to the concerned branch members they said: “at our December 2008 meeting we all felt that the portrait of the Queen was in hiding at Parliament house.”

The correspondence received and dated 3 March 2009 from the Parliament was that the portrait of the Queen was and has been in the Speakers Square since 1954.

Upon investigations of Parliament House the only portrait of the Queen that the public can view at an accessible vantage point is in the Parkes Room between the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly.

Worse still this portrait is on a pillar facing Macquarie Street. All other portraits of the Queen are in areas that are restricted to public access.

In short visitors to the oldest Parliament in the nation cannot see a portrait of the Queen.

A Former President of the Legislative Council moved a floor to wall size portrait of the Queen to an area restricted to public access.

The Speakers Square has a portrait of the Queen but that area is also restricted to public access.

So on March 5 2009 when Mr. O’Farrell was removed from the House did the Speaker presumes that correspondence regarding the portrait of the Queen was some sort of subversive plot?

To put this in perspective since 1999 when Former Premier Bob Carr evicted the NSW Governor from Government House the symbols of our system of Government have been removed or hidden from public view.

The professional response from the Speaker should have been that the Portrait of the Queen would be placed in a position that is clearly visible to the public. The Speaker could have also referred the matter to the President of the Legislative Council as well.

The oldest Parliamentary chamber in Australia does not have a portrait of the Queen at the public entrance.

During 1999 there was a referendum to decide upon our Constitutional arrangements and the issue was resolved.

The NSW Parliament is open to visitors and members and it should be obvious to all that we do have a Constitutional Monarchy and unless it is decided by a referendum to change to an alternative, the symbols and portraits that represent our system of Government are not only maintained but enhanced.

Is it not too much to ask for the portrait of the Queen be placed in a position of prominence at both entrances of the Parliament where the public has access such as the entry point?

If a second portrait needs to be purchased for the entrance to the Legislative Council why this can’t be done?

Why the NSW Governor remains evicted from Government House and every time that there is a cabinet reshuffle it suddenly looks as business as usual.

If that is not hypocrisy then what is?

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