Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2623 ..
We must support that view, and we must defend the right of this Assembly not to be influenced by what may or may not come before the courts. I believe that the House of Representatives Practice should be upheld in this Assembly.
MR CORBELL(Minister for Health and Minister for Planning): I seek leave to speak again.
MR CORBELL: I want to reiterate a couple of points. I am not endeavouring for this motion to be what those opposite would portray it as. What I am endeavouring to do with this motion is uphold my responsibilities as a minister to ensure that the authority that reports to me is in the best position to protect its interests in any potential legal action. That is why I am doing this.
It is not some secretive attempt to hide information from members. I am very confident in the legal advice; I am very confident in the documentation. Equally, I have no difficulty with members seeing it. My concern is that, if third parties who are in dispute with the authority see it, as a result of my action in providing information I will have undermined the ability of the authority to properly represent its case in court. It is my responsibility as a minister to ensure that the authority's interests-the territory's interests-are protected in that regard. That is the reason for the amendment.
I would like to draw members' attention to the practice in other chambers of parliaments in Australia. Mr Smyth referred to the practice of the New South Wales upper house. The New South Wales upper house has a fairly standard practice in situations like these. If the house demands certain documents, those documents are delivered to the clerk of the house and made available only to members of the Legislative Council and not published or copied without an order of the house.
Where a member of the house disputes the validity of the claim of privilege in relation to a particular document, there is an independent legal arbiter to determine that. In the New South Wales upper house there is an accepted process of information not being able to be made available to anyone other than members of that place. I am proposing a similar process, albeit by a different means. If another member would like to suggest an alternative process, similar to that of the New South Wales upper house, I would be quite happy with that. My intention is the same as the process used in the New South Wales Upper House.
Mr Smyth: Yes, except there's no compulsion to sign any document.
MR CORBELL: The intent is the same, Mr Smyth. If a member would like to propose an alternative process, such as that used in the New South Wales upper house, I would be equally comfortable with that and would be happy to withdraw this amendment.
In the early 1990s in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, the then Chief Minister moved that certain legal advice be authorised for publication to all members and not be published otherwise. Again, that was an instance where advice was restricted