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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2159 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

There's a purpose, and I could argue for its utilisation in relation to the submissions. It's been done a thousand times in this place. We did it on Tuesday; we did it today; we do it constantly. Yet all of a sudden we've got one issue here which has achieved this Colossus status. I think, to some extent, it's through the fact that we perhaps as a parliament haven't quite come to grips with it.

But of course privilege is attached to Auditor-Generals reports actually through its legislation in any event; it's a legislative process. Just as the models that Clayton Utz referred us to in relation to New South Wales state railways, it's a statutory model.

The point I raise is that perhaps we, as a legislature, need to investigate models. Ms Tucker has put up a model today, a legislative model in relation to how to ensure we do protect certain documents and what is the best and most appropriate way of protecting those certain documents.

I think it was an issue that was raised first in relation the Gallop report, and we found there that the circumstances weren't such as we would have wanted or wished. There was confusion and concern in relation to my capacity to release that at the time. It became very confused, complex and complicated.

Perhaps at this time I anticipated, "Well, we've had a problem with Gallop; I don't think it'll recur or occur again."The Gallop problem has occurred again in relation to the McLeod report. What it's done is raise the suggestion that I think we need, as a legislature, to develop some way of dealing with this concern around when it is appropriate for parliamentary privilege to be available and utilised and when we should be relying on statutory forms of protection, such as the model that Ms Tucker has now proposed or developed in relation to this particular issue.

I raise the issue as a result of, I think, this level of confusion, concern, worry and doubt about when it applies and when it doesn't, when it can be utilised, what the effects or implications of it are and when something is a proceeding of parliament and when it's not. To the point that I don't have the same concern as others do in relation to this particular matter, my opinion and the opinion of my department-and it's my firm and sound opinion; and I believe it was Clayton Utz's firm and sound opinion too, as expressed in paragraph 21 of the Clayton Utz opinion-is that these proceedings, this document, this issue, the McLeod report, in no way can be, and ever would be, a proceeding of this parliament.

It was an executive act organised by me, ordered by me, undertaken on my behalf, reporting to me; it is not a proceeding of parliament. As such, parliamentary privilege won't attach. I think it's beyond doubt. Others have a concern about it and aren't as confident as I am; hence my willingness to accept Ms Tucker's model.


(4.42): I want to respond to Mr Stanhope's comments there. It is an interesting question and one that is being dealt with by parliaments right around the Commonwealth, in fact. These issues of parliamentary privilege and immunities that we were given-a very special immunity and privilege-are sensitive issues, and we do need to be very careful when we see in any way a slide to allow other documents to move and to back onto that privilege.

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