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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 July 2019) . . Page.. 2376 ..

Although the committee found the Canberra Times had access to the letter or its contents, it was unable to determine the source of the disclosure. As a result, it was not possible to judge the circumstances or the motivation behind the disclosure, so the committee was unable to reach a conclusion that contempt had been committed.

Nonetheless, the unauthorised disclosure of material provided to committees is a very serious matter and has the potential to significantly affect an inquiry, perhaps even fatally. The committee has therefore recommended that ACT government guidelines on officials interacting with Assembly committees be revised to clarify that all documents provided to a committee may attract privilege and that agencies be reminded of these guidelines.

This inquiry has highlighted the problem privileges committees face when dealing with these sorts of issues. While the Assembly has procedures for dealing with allegations of unauthorised disclosures, the committee believes these could be further refined. Identifying the source of an unauthorised disclosure is extremely difficult, and this committee’s experience was no different.

It appears that in many other jurisdictions this question is initially left with the affected committee to investigate and formally report to the chamber. Should a committee report to the Assembly that it was significantly affected by unauthorised disclosure, a reference to a privileges committee may then follow. The affected committee is in the best position to know the circumstances of a disclosure and who may be potentially responsible. It is invested with all the powers a privileges committee would have anyway. The privileges committee believes the Assembly should adopt a similar practice and has made a recommendation to implement this.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Justice and Community Safety—Standing Committee

Scrutiny report 32

MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (11.15): I present the following report:

Justice and Community Safety—Standing Committee (Legislative Scrutiny Role)—Scrutiny Report 32, dated 23 July 2019, together with a copy of the extracts of the relevant minutes of proceedings.

I seek leave to make a brief statement.

Leave granted.

MRS JONES: Scrutiny report No 32 contains the committee’s comments on six bills, 20 pieces of subordinate legislation, four government responses and proposed amendments to one bill. The report was circulated to members when the Assembly was not sitting, and I commend the report to the Assembly.

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