Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 1884 ..
MR SPEAKER: Order! It being almost 12.30 pm, the debate is interrupted, in accordance with standing order 74.
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Justice and Community Safety. It is in relation to allegations of misconduct at the Periodic Detention Centre. Can the Minister say whether the Magistrates Court hearings he referred to in answers to questions over the past two days relate to the alleged misconduct itself or to subsequent or peripheral matters?
MR HUMPHRIES: No, I cannot. Members opposite are obviously very keen to pursue this matter. I am almost tempted to suggest to them that they should make an application themselves to lift the suppression order if they are really keen to be able to pursue this matter in the Assembly. I repeat what I have said several times in this place already this week. There is a very comprehensive suppression order operating in respect of these matters.
I know that some members in this place would love to have me provide details, because the details that I would provide in this place would be privileged and would be reportable without being, I think, in contempt of the Magistrates Court. By the same token, it is a very serious issue of breaching the principles of separation of powers for parliament to exercise the prerogative to make those sorts of comments under privilege and cut across decisions already made by the Magistrates Court to keep the matters under suppression. I say to members that if they plan to ask other questions about this matter at least come and talk to me beforehand about what you can and cannot get away with pursuant to the suppression orders. If you want information, that is the best way of getting it.
Mr Speaker, I will make one other comment in respect of this matter. I was accused in this place both last week and this week of breaking the law. I am aware that members of the press gallery, of the media, in this Assembly are aware of a number of details concerning the matters presently before the Magistrates Court, matters which have been subject to suppression orders. I believe that those members of the press gallery are being supplied with the information by some members of this place. I would have thought that acting in breach of a suppression order of the court is itself a very serious breach of the law. Members of this place ought to be careful about that before they make such statements in breach of the law.