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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 744 ..

MR HARGREAVES (5.30): I wish to speak on this matter, for a number of reasons. One reason is that I am not connected with it, I hope. I have had a very good look at what has happened, and I do not think anybody has been either looking at it, or has been interested to do so, other than my constituents and the staff. I therefore feel quite removed from the process.

I think that, in the interests of the reputation of the parliament, it behoves all of us to treat this with the appropriate sensitivity and respect. I do pay credit to the sentiments that Mrs Dunne has expressed so far in the debate, both within this chamber and outside it.

I think it is also important that, when we are talking about documents, everybody is confident of the manner of exchange of documents between their origin and, for example, the Federal Police. I have had some experience in this house where evidence has been received in a standing committee, the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety, that involved defamation, and a not very subtle accusation that a member of this place had been on the take, and that the police had been almost derelict in their duty with respect to progressing a case against a member.

Of course, that information therefore was particularly sensitive. I do not necessarily believe the accusation was true, but of course the sensitivity of the material meant that it could not be authorised for publication. It could also not be allowed to find its way out through inadvertent transmission by, for example, members of the staff of an elected member.

We all have papers from standing committees coming into our offices. A lot of us-I do not-have their staff actually file those papers and things like that. The opportunity for someone to find supersensitive stuff lying about, or for such material to be transmitted to somebody inadvertently is reasonably high, so I think that we ought to be particularly careful.

I am not sure on whose advice we relied-whether it was Ms Weeks', Mr McRae's or Mr Duncan's-when this matter actually arrived at the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety, but certainly that body of corporate knowledge advised us that the custody of those records ought to be under lock and key in the Clerk's office. They should not be with the chair of the committee, or the members, but in the Clerk's office. What we are talking about in this motion is that we are relying on the reputation of the Clerk as that independent custodian of sensitive material.

When I first came into this place, I was not particularly aware of what constituted a breach of privilege. I soon found out, I have to tell you, because some members actually reminded me of it, inside of three days of my first attendance here. I think this is an issue we all need to take particularly seriously.

For members' information, I have a small difficulty with paragraph 6. It is only a little one, and it relates to the integrity of the information. Mr Speaker, at this stage, could I move the amendment that has been circulated in my name and then speak to it, please, in the interests of time?

MR SPEAKER: If you formally move it.

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