Page 1934 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 June 2022

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In summary, I have outlined the benefits of these amendments to the act. It is important that the act remain as effective as possible in the years to come. I invite the Assembly to view the detail of the amendment bill and the attachments. Having done so, I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Parton) adjourned to the next sitting.

Integrity Commission Amendment Bill 2022

Ms Burch, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MS BURCH (Brindabella) (11.55): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to present today the Integrity Commission Amendment Bill 2022, along with its explanatory statement. The objective of this bill is to prescribe additional arrangements in the Integrity Commission Act 2018 for the treatment and handling by witnesses, public servants, the commission and others of information that is potentially protected by parliamentary privilege, including information the unauthorised release of which may amount to a contempt of the Assembly.

Parliamentary privilege refers to the unique powers and immunities enjoyed by the Assembly, its committees and its members in order to effectively perform their parliamentary functions. Arguably, first amongst these privileges is the freedom of speech immunity derived from article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1688:

That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament.

This foundational protection is recapitulated and amplified in section 16 of the commonwealth’s Parliamentary Privileges Act, which applies to the Assembly and all of its members through section 24 of the self-government act. Another one of the Assembly’s privileges is its power to punish contempts against it.

Conduct that is intended or likely to amount to an improper interference with the free exercise by the Assembly or a committee of their authority or functions, or with the free performance by a member of the member’s duties, may constitute a contempt against the Assembly. For example, it would be open to the Assembly to treat as contempts an unauthorised release of private evidence given to the Assembly, or an Assembly committee; an unauthorised release of material held by an MLA, or on behalf of an MLA, that can be sufficiently connected to the proceedings of parliament; and non-compliance with continuing resolution 4A of the Assembly, directed towards dealing with claims of parliamentary privilege that arise during the exercise of the ACT Integrity Commission’s powers and functions.

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