Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3617 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
In this case there was a remedy. Once the Assembly secretariat was informed of the situation, the emails were routed to the correct office. No grand political conspiracy was discovered. All that was proved was that for a period a volunteer, subsequently employed as a staffer, received emails that properly should have been received by Mr Wood, as a result of a technical bungle by InTACT. (Further extension of time granted.)
Even assuming the presence of behaviour that falls within the terms of section 4 of the Parliamentary Privileges Act, which is doubtful, to make such a finding in such a situation will simply lead to a reduction in the respect of the Assembly as an institution, as well as reducing the effect of being impugned as being in contempt of the Assembly where there is a real case for such condemnation.
The Assembly should consult its dignity and decide not to take the matter any further, the resulting effect being that the community might welcome signs of restraint in such a matter as evidence of the maturity of the Assembly as an institution, an institution which could look at a problem but have the wisdom to use its power judiciously and only when necessary.
Like other members of the committee, I would like to thank Mr Abbott, the secretary of the committee, for his assistance and thank my fellow committee members for the way in which the inquiry was conducted.
MR SPEAKER: Before we go any further, I will read to members the relevant provision of the standing orders in relation to extensions of time. Standing order 69 (j) states:
Extension of time-with the consent of a majority of the Assembly, to be determined without debate [that is, a motion], a Member may be allowed to continue a speech interrupted under the foregoing provisions of this standing order for one period not exceeding 10 minutes. Provided that no extension of time shall exceed half the original period allotted and any Member may be granted leave by the Assembly to conclude their speech within a period of time which is no greater than half the original period allotted or for the period specified in the request for leave.
In future I am going to adhere to that standing order. If members wish to exceed the provision of the standing order, they will have to move a suspension of standing orders. Strictly speaking, Mr Smyth, you ought to have sought to suspend standing orders.
MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (11.21): Mr Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the committee for the work that it has done on this inquiry. We are a very small parliament, and in a parliament as small as this there is a level of interaction and indeed friendship between all sides of the Assembly that makes this Assembly unique in Australia. As a result of that, we acknowledge that an inquiry of this sort into the behaviour of members of this place, members whom each of us know, would have been extremely difficult for the committee. It certainly would have been difficult for the committee, nevertheless necessary and vitally important if the parliament is to be completely free to exercise its powers, and to exercise them in a way that the community has an expectation and a right to have them exercised.