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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (16 February) . . Page.. 152 ..

Mr Humphries: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: Mr Berry is abusing standing orders. He is reading something else into the record, which has nothing to do with the question answered by the Chief Minister.

MR SPEAKER: I uphold the point of order, Mr Humphries. Thank you.


Statement by Speaker

MR SPEAKER: On 2 February 1999, Mr Hird gave written notice of a possible breach of privilege concerning certain aspects of the conduct of the proceedings of the Select Committee on the Territory's Superannuation Commitments which he believed constituted a breach of the standing orders of the Assembly and was therefore a matter of privilege. I present a copy of Mr Hird's letter, for the information of members.

Under the provisions of standing order 71, I, as Speaker, must determine as soon as practicable whether or not the matter merits precedence over other business. If, in my opinion, the matter does merit precedence, I must inform the Assembly of the decision, and the member who raised the matter may move a motion, without notice and forthwith, to refer the matter to a select committee appointed by the Assembly for that purpose. If, in my opinion, the matter does not merit precedence, I must inform the member in writing and may also inform the Assembly of the decision.

I am not required to judge whether there has been a breach of privilege or a contempt of the Assembly. I can only judge whether the matter merits precedence.

Although it is clear that the disobedience of the rules of the Assembly or the obstruction of a member in the performance of his or her duty could be found to be a contempt of the Assembly, having considered Mr Hird's allegations and having perused a copy of the minutes of proceedings of the committee as presented to the Assembly on 2 February, I have concluded that the matter does not merit precedence over other business.

The allegations made by Mr Hird are serious, and I note that to an extent the particular matters of concern to Mr Hird and other members of the committee have already been discussed in the Assembly during consideration of the committee's report on 2 February.

Although, as stated in House of Representatives Practice, the Speaker does not have formal authority over the proceedings in select and standing committees and there is rarely any scope for the Speaker to intervene in committee proceedings, I would like to remind members of the need to ensure that the rules and standing orders of the Assembly are adhered to and that fair and proper processes are followed and confidentiality maintained if the Assembly's committees are to operate successfully. The rules are there to ensure that the committee process operates successfully and the rights of all members are taken into account and due process is followed.

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