Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (10 February) . . Page.. 9..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
I do believe that we need further investigation to fully explore the impact of this leaflet on the work of the committees here in the Assembly, to try to work through the possible damage that has been done and, if possible, work to undo it.
MR STEFANIAK (10.53): Mr Speaker, it is thankfully somewhat rare that matters are referred to privileges committees. I think in a case like this-and I listened with interest to what Ms Dundas was saying-that really the Assembly does need, at this stage, to look at whether in fact there is a prima facie case. If there is a prima facie case, then the matter should go to a privileges committee. I would suggest that, in this matter, there is absolutely no prima facie case.
In fact, what happened is fairly simple. Mr Smyth has gone through the particular pamphlet that Mrs Dunne handed out in good faith. She stated, I think, in her media release-
Mrs Dunne: No, that did not go out.
MR STEFANIAK: Oh, that did not go out. I understand that she certainly stood aside from the committee as soon as she realised that there was something in the document that should not have been there. At that point in time, she took appropriate steps to stand aside and indicated that she would stand aside.
Mr Stanhope: Like a conflict of interest? Like politicising the committee system?
MR SPEAKER: Order, members! Mr Stefaniak has the floor.
MR STEFANIAK: I think that is quite appropriate. Mr Smyth is quite right to look at intent because quite clearly, on the evidence here, there is no prima facie case. She put out a document in good faith. She was the spokeswoman of the party for that matter and this was an issue in her electorate. When it was drawn to her attention that there was something in the document that really should not be there, she immediately took steps to do the right thing, which she has done. Quite seriously, that should be the end of the matter.
I do not think a prima facie case has been established here which would warrant this matter going to a privileges committee. Privileges committees occur fairly rarely. This would only be about the second or so in the life of all the five Assemblies we have had to date. Members should not treat this as in the past they have treated things such as censure motions, which were a dime a dozen in the late 1990s. I think Tony de Domenico had about 15 against him in one year. That devalues the currency. We certainly should be very careful of devaluing the currency of privileges committees, because they are used rarely in all parliaments and they have been in this little parliament.
I do not believe a prima facie case has been made out here. It is quite obvious what has occurred. Mrs Dunne took the appropriate steps when the matter was drawn to her attention. We have had instances of members doing that, too, in the past. I can remember that, earlier in this Assembly in a fireworks inquiry, there were some concerns expressed in relation to views Mr Hargreaves had made known. We investigated that. Ms Tucker