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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 743 ..

  • MR
  • WOOD (continuing):

  • Before sealing the package of documents not immune from seizure the person appointed under paragraph (3) shall cause such documents to be copied and the copies of the documents shall be forwarded to Mr Humphries at the same time as the originals are forwarded to the Australian Federal Police.
  • For the purposes of paragraph (4), where documents are included with other documents in electronic form on a disk or tape, the documents shall be printed out, only printed copies of such documents shall be placed in the package of documents not immune from seizure, and the disks or tapes shall be placed in the package identified as documents immune from seizure.
  • The person appointed under paragraph (3), on completion of this task, shall provide the Speaker with a brief statement that the task has been completed and the Speaker shall table that statement in the Assembly.
  • The person appointed under paragraph (3) may be paid such fee as is approved by the Speaker after consultation with Party Leaders.
  • It was considered, since I am a party to this, that it was better if Mr Quinlan moved the motion. However, he has been involved in meetings and cannot make it back to the chamber at this time, so I am on my feet.

    The motion is self-explanatory, but it takes some reading to make it self-explanatory. It is to facilitate the process that is under way, and to see that it is done with due respect to parliamentary procedures, so that all privileges are protected, and the investigation can still go on.

    I understand that this motion has been fairly well circulated, I believe it is fairly well understood, and I ask for the support of the Assembly on this issue.

    MR HUMPHRIES (Leader of the Opposition) (5.28): Mr Speaker, the opposition is happy to lend support to this motion. As the minister has explained, it provides for a process whereby it is possible to determine whether privilege attaches to particular documents that were seized yesterday, subject to a search warrant.

    The alternative, I assume, to a motion like this is that the Speaker would have to determine privilege, or maybe the whole house would have to determine privilege, by virtue of a vote on the floor. I am sure that we all agree that this is the best course of action. This motion allows for somebody who is, I assume, a barrister or someone of that kind, to come in, sit down, and go through the legal precedents for whether a document attracts privilege or not, and determine, on the basis of that, whether a particular document is privileged or not.

    Obviously, the courts are not able to use documents that are privileged. My understanding is that the Assembly as a whole has the benefit of that privilege, and that individuals may not to decide to waive that privilege. It belongs to the Assembly as a whole.

    I am particularly supportive of paragraph 5 of this motion, because any documents that are not immune from seizure, which can be copied, and which can be forwarded to the Federal Police, will also be provided to me. As I have said in this house already, since I have not seen any of these documents before, it will be of some interest to me to see what these documents are.

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