Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 2060 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
In that act, it says under the section 'Essential elements of offences' that conduct, including the use of words, does not constitute an offence against the house, unless it amounts, or is intended or likely to amount, to an improper interference with the free exercise by a house or committee of its authority or functions, or with the free performance by a member of the member's duties as a member.
I would suggest that, if emails were not getting through to a member, whose job it is, as a member, to receive those emails, then clearly there needs to be a look at this question. That is why I am supporting the establishment of this committee. I believe we have a responsibility, as an Assembly, to look at this. We have to show that we are prepared to take these matters seriously.
I personally do not intend to make any comments or imputations about members of staff of the Liberals. I thought Liberal staff would want to see due process. It is clear that this is no more than that, and that it is an important issue which needs to be treated seriously.
We have an act to guide us on how we should deal with this. I am hoping, as does Ms Dundas, that this committee is carried out with exactly that approach-steered by the act that guides our responses in this matter. As I will be on that committee, I can assure the Assembly that that is certainly the direction in which I will be trying to ensure that committee goes.
MR HUMPHRIES: I seek leave to make a very short further comment on this matter.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I rise because Ms Tucker made reference to the last sentence of the DPP statement today, about disciplinary or other action being a matter for the Assembly to consider.
I telephoned the Director of Public Prosecutions this afternoon, when I had seen the statement. I asked him about the last sentence, and expressed the view that this sentence could be interpreted as some kind of injunction to the Assembly to take up a matter in this place.
The DPP expressed regret to me for that sentence. He apologised for having included it in the statement and told me that, unfortunately, he was not in a position to withdraw it, because the statement had already been issued.
MS TUCKER: Before the debate is closed, I seek leave to respond to that.
MS TUCKER: I have no idea what the DPP said, obviously. This is what Mr Humphries says he said. I accept that, but the point still has to be made that the DPP's job was to look at the criminality, or otherwise, of this. We are looking at an issue which is clearly described in the Commonwealth act. For that reason, it needs to be looked at-and it does not have to be about a criminal offence.