Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3612 ..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
But most of his dissenting report says, "Yes, but if he is guilty we should not really give him a penalty at all. We should not find contempt, because we have to have more regard for the dignity of the house than the fact that there was an invasion of the privacy, and interference in the duties, of a minister of this Assembly."Sorry about that. I do not agree with that. I think that that is not on.
Mr Smyth says that in the past in the big house up on the hill they have had the attitude of almost finding contempt and then thinking, "No, we will not take that extra step, because it will bring the dignity of the house down. It will lower it."If something is wrong, then it has to be exposed and it has to be fixed. We do not say, "My reputation as a really nice person is going to go down if I am associated with this wrongdoing, so I will just sweep it under the carpet."That is what it is. It is just sweeping stuff under the carpet. I think we have a greater responsibility to raise the dignity of this place by saying we will not tolerate unacceptable behaviour. We found this to be unacceptable behaviour-the majority of the committee, anyway.
It was not a pleasant thing for us to have to do. Yesterday in question time I heard an imputation when Mr Smyth said to Mr Humphries that Mr Stanhope must have known something about the report and that perhaps there had been a breach of privilege. I would like to put on the record that I absolutely reject that. If he wants to repeat that imputation, I would like to see it by way of substantive motion. I would love to defend it. I would also love him to repeat it outside this chamber, because I could do with a second house to invest in for my children.
Not only have I not shown the report to anybody; I have not shown any page or any word to the Chief Minister since the inquiry started. I have not discussed any of the detail with the Chief Minister at any time. I strongly reject that imputation, if it was directed to me. If it was directed at the chair, then I take even stronger objection. If there has been any leaking from this committee, it certainly was not by the chair, and it certainly was not by me. Somebody else can add the numbers up.
MR SMYTH (11.03): Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to address my dissenting report to the Select Committee on Privileges inquiry. I do not believe that contempt has occurred, because the criteria have not been met. I say that because Speaker Snedden said in the House of Representatives on 8 November 1979:
The privileges of the House are precious rights which must be preserved. The collateral obligation to this privilege of freedom of speech in the Parliament will be challenged unless all members exercise the most stringent responsibilities in relation to them.
The fourth edition of House of Representatives Practice suggests that it is the duty of each member and of the House of Representatives as a whole to refrain from any course of action prejudicial to continued respect for its rights and immunities. This not only means exercising responsibilities in the stringent manner referred to in the quotation from Speaker Snedden but also means exercising or invoking its powers when exercising its penal jurisdiction-that is what proceedings relating to whether someone has committed a contempt is: the exercise of the Assembly's penal jurisdiction-in a sparing