Page 4096 - Week 12 - Thursday, 1 December 2022
We sought to make findings and recommendations that uphold the very important privileges that are essential for any parliament to work, whilst also recognising the important responsibilities that all MLAs have under the Work Health and Safety Act. We would hope that a greater understanding of privileges can be gained by reading this report and that that will be useful to anyone who has dealings with the Assembly.
I also believe that by adopting the recommendations in this report, the sorts of issues that led to what the committee has, indeed, found to be a breach of privilege, do not occur again. With regard to the specific findings, the committee made four findings. The committee found that the first WorkSafe ACT prohibition notice improperly interfered with the free exercise of the Assembly and its committees, and therefore was a breach of privileges of the Assembly by WorkSafe ACT.
The committee found that the second WorkSafe ACT prohibition notice may have improperly interfered with the free exercise of the Assembly or committee of its authority but, as a breach of privileges had been found in the first prohibition notice, the committee did not consider it necessary to make a further finding with regard to that prohibition notice.
The committee found that the phone call and email from the minister’s office for advice, which WorkSafe ACT considered to be a complaint, was open to the perception of intentionally influencing WorkSafe’s actions. However, it did not, of itself, interfere with a committee, and therefore is not a breach of privilege.
In its last finding, the committee noted with concern the estimates committee’s reports of the ongoing actions of the minister in the possible interference of that committee, but found that it did not meet the standard of breaching privilege.
The committee has made 10 recommendations, and I will go through them. The committee recommended:
The Committee recommends that WorkSafe ACT develop a memorandum of understanding with the Assembly on how it will exercise its regulatory functions within the Assembly precincts, acknowledging the parliamentary privilege issues engaged.
Recommendation 2 states:
The Committee recommends that no further action be taken with WorkSafe ACT.
Recommendation 3 states:
The Committee recommends that the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 be amended to:
(1) provide clarity that the Assembly is a workplace; and
(2) provide that nothing in the Act:
(a) abrogates or derogates from the powers, privileges and immunities of the Legislative Assembly, its committees or its members; or