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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (9 April) . . Page.. 801 ..

MR SPEAKER (continuing):

Members will recall that on 19 February I made a statement to the Assembly outlining action I had taken and proposed to take in relation to an order made in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. The matter related to the publication of the report of the board of inquiry into disability services-the Gallop report. The order of the court had restrained the Chief Minister from presenting certain documents to the Assembly. On that occasion, I had intended to ensure that the Assembly was represented by counsel to seek to intervene in proceedings to assist the court, subject to its agreement, and to inform it of the issues relating to parliamentary privilege. As events unfolded, the action was not necessary, as the relevant orders were vacated by consent, and there was no need to seek to intervene.

The report of the board of inquiry into disability services and other documents have now been presented in the Assembly and authorised for publication by the Assembly. The report of the board is still set down for consideration by the Assembly. It is clearly a "proceeding in parliament" and is protected by section 16 of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 in its application in the territory.

Subsection 16 (2) of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 contains the following definition of "proceedings in parliament":

(2) For the purposes of the provision of article 9 of the Bill of Rights, 1688 as applying in relation to the Parliament, and for the purposes of this section, "proceedings in Parliament" means all the words spoken and acts done in the course of, or for purposes of or incidental to, the transacting of business of a House or of a committee, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes:

(a) the giving of evidence before a House or a committee, and evidence so given;

(b) the presentation or submission of a document to a House or a committee;

(c) the preparation of a document for purposes of or incidental to the transacting of any such business; and

(d) the formulation, making or publication of a document, including a report, by or pursuant to an order of a House or a committee and the document so formulated, made or published.

As I advised members by letter yesterday, action is currently being pursued by plaintiffs in the Supreme Court concerning issues relating to the procedural fairness of the board of inquiry. In my letter I advised that I intended to brief counsel to seek to appear on my behalf as amicus curiae, a friend of the court, to raise the matter of whether the privileges of the Assembly may be affected.

I now advise the Assembly that counsel has been briefed to seek to appear on my behalf as amicus curiae in the proceedings in the Supreme Court today. The proposed appearance is in relation to the potential issue of parliamentary privilege attaching to evidence that may be led before the court, and to the extent to which proceedings may involve breaches of the privileges of the Assembly.

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