Page 3012 - Week 09 - Thursday, 13 October 2022

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My motion asks that the reporting day on both these bills be extended to allow sufficient time to conduct the hearing and report on the findings, noting the other commitments of the committee in terms of a public hearing on another enquiry and the annual report hearings. The committee asks that the reporting date be extended to 1 December 2022, the last sitting day of the year.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Integrity Commission Amendment Bill 2022

Debate resumed from 9 June 2022, on motion by Ms Burch:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Climate Action, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism) (10.04): The government will be supporting this bill. The amendments provide clarity and certainty between the Assembly, the Integrity Commission, heads of public sector entities and anyone else who may be regarded as holding information that is potentially protected by parliamentary privilege.

This will result in an appropriate legislative mechanism to address the current tension where a public official may face being served with a notice to produce information, information that may be subject to parliamentary privilege, to the Integrity Commission. Currently, a public official directed to produce information that is subject to parliamentary privilege could be held in contempt of the commission if the individual fails to produce the information. Alternatively, if a person provides the information they may be in contempt of the Assembly.

The amendments will enable public officials to appropriately discharge their responsibilities. Now, of course, these matters are not isolated to the ACT and have been observed in other jurisdictions that have integrity commissions. This bill may indeed become a leading model for other jurisdictions that may wish to clarify the interaction and operation of parliamentary privilege with anti-corruption commissions or with similar legal jurisdictions. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

MS LEE (Kurrajong—Leader of the Opposition) (10.05): The Canberra Liberals will also be supporting this bill. This bill amends the Integrity Commission Act 2018 in relation to parliamentary privilege. It will ensure any requirement to provide information to the Integrity Commission is consistent with the ability of members, former members and anyone holding information on behalf of the Assembly, to be able to make a claim in relation to parliamentary privilege and to any claims for parliamentary privilege to be dealt with by the Assembly in line with standing orders.

Section 24 of the Australian Capital Territory Self-Government Act 1988 (Commonwealth) affords members of the Legislative Assembly and its committees the same powers, privileges and immunities as the house of representatives—a key immunity being freedom of speech, often described, Mr Deputy Speaker, as the most important of privileges. The immunity arises from the UK Bill of Rights 1688, which states that:

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