Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 31 July 2018) . . Page.. 2358 ..
formed that committee. It was in response to an allegation that a letter circulated by Ms Lee and Miss C Burch and its reference to the Liberals’ have your say website was misleading, was interfering in the process of a parliamentary committee and was a conspiracy to control the process and possibly the outcomes of the public accounts committee.
Chapter 1 of the committee’s report talks about what constitutes a contempt of the Assembly. Whilst I do not intend to reflect on that now, it is obviously a very important context for the committee to operate in, and it obviously informed our thinking on it quite a bit. Chapter 2 contains the background of the inquiry and outlines the contextual information, and chapter 3 goes to the conduct of the inquiry.
The committee wrote to Ms Lee, Miss Burch and Mr Coe, as Mr Coe had been referenced in the motion as well. We also wrote to UnionsACT and the Australian Christian Lobby in relation to their use of links on their websites to gather and forward submissions to Assembly committee inquiries into secure work and end of life choices, respectively.
All three MLAs individually met with the committee at hearings held in camera. The committee decided to hold its hearings in camera in the first instance, given the potentially very political nature of the discussion, but subsequently the committee authorised publication of the evidence taken in its entirety, to ensure that there was transparency about the process.
We also conducted a survey of users of the have your say website, because Mr Coe had provided all of their names and contact details to the committee, as is required. Those were redacted for publication of those documents, but we took the opportunity to canvass them as part of considering whether the PAC committee’s inquiry had been compromised in any way.
Turning to the findings and recommendations of the committee, it is worth noting that in the newsletter that had been sent out, Miss Burch and Ms Lee stated:
If you are an owner or a tenant or just plain think this is unfair, we encourage you to make a submission to the Inquiry at …
The website link given was www.haveyoursay.net.au/strata/. This was a Liberal Party website, and the key question was whether they should have provided the committee’s website or whether this was appropriate.
When asked about this, both members were of the view that many people found the prospect of making a submission to a committee daunting. Their key submission to the committee was that they were trying to make it easier for members of the public to be engaged. They thought that was an important part of their role as members, which was a view that the committee certainly acknowledged.
The committee accepted that Ms Lee’s and Miss Burch’s newsletter was created and circulated as part of what they saw as their duties as members of the Assembly—to facilitate community engagement in an Assembly inquiry. While the omission of the