Page 2493 - Week 07 - Monday, 15 August 2022
These powers, privileges, and immunities were amplified by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987. The parliament’s power of inquiry is essential to the operation of responsible government and resides untrampled in this place. It is a power that has traditionally been delegated to a parliamentary committee and has recognised that our standing orders provide that a committee has the power to call for papers, persons or records. That an agency of the executive would seek to interfere with the exercise of the legislative powers is indeed concerning.
To be clear: it is the ACT executive that is accountable to this place and to the Assembly committees it establishes in order to exercise the inquiry power. It is unlikely that, absent expressed statutory provisions, enactments such as the WHS Act are capable of interfering with the Assembly’s inquiry powers, its jurisdiction over the conduct of its own proceedings or its power to make findings of contempt when improper interference in the work of the Assembly or its committees has been found to occur.
I can advise the Assembly that the Work Health and Safety Commissioner has, this morning, not responded to my letter and has not lifted the prohibition notice. As a result, I am in the process of seeking legal advice on the matter and will keep members up to date as the situation unfolds.
Although it is not for me to direct any of the Assembly’s committees until legal questions about the prohibition are resolved, it is prudent that the Assembly’s committees consider alternative arrangements which might need to be affected to ensure that they are able to continue effectively to exercise their functions. I table:
Prohibition Notice—WorkSafe ACT—
Copy of Prohibition Notice, issued under section 195 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, from WorkSafe ACT to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for the ACT, dated 12 August 2022.
Copy of letter from the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for the ACT to the Work Health and Safety Commissioner, dated 15 August 2022.
Thank you, Members.
Sitting pattern 2022
MR MILLIGAN (Yerrabi) (10.23), by leave: I move:
That the resolution of the Assembly of 3 August 2022, amending the sitting pattern for 2022, be amended as follows:
Omit all words after “15 August 2022”, substitute “with the only items of business being the motion moved by Ms Lee in relation to the Chief Minister; to deal with any matters in relation to the prohibition notice issued by WorkSafe ACT on Friday, 12 August 2022; and for the Assembly to adjourn after consideration of these items.”.
Question resolved in the affirmative.