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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4203..


Wednesday, 11 December 2002

The Assembly met at 10.30 am.

(Quorum formed.)

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Sub judice convention-matter of public importance

MR SPEAKER: I wish to make a brief statement regarding the sub judice convention as it applies in the Assembly.

Yesterday evening Mrs Cross proposed in writing that a matter of public importance be submitted to the Assembly for discussion today. The matter proposed was in the following terms:

That five years after the catastrophe of the Canberra Hospital implosion the Bender family are still awaiting an appropriate resolution of the tragic death of Katie Bender.

Although the Assembly has no standing order relating to the sub judice convention, the practice of the Assembly has been to follow that convention. In addition, pursuant to standing order 275, certain questions relating to the conduct of the business of the Assembly are decided according to the prevailing practice of the House of Representatives.

The sub judice convention, as set out in the Fourth Edition of House of Representatives Practice, is:

Notwithstanding its fundamental right and duty to consider any matter if it is thought to be in the public interest, the House imposes a restriction on itself in the case of matters awaiting or under adjudication in a court of law. This is known as the sub judice convention. The convention is that, subject to the right of the House to legislate on any matter, matters awaiting adjudication in a court of law should not be brought forward in debate, motions or questions.

Page 565 of the Fourth Edition of House of Representatives Practice states:

There is no specific difference between the application of the sub judice rule to matters of public importance and that which applies to debate generally.

On page 495 it states:

The application of the sub judice convention is subject to the discretion of the Chair at all times. The Chair should always have regard to the basic rights and interests of Members in being able to raise and discuss matters of concern in the House. Regard needs to be had to the interests of persons who may be involved in court


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