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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2641 ..



was a failure of judgment on my part and I apologise to members for doing so. If this privileges investigation proceeds, I will be making the same comments to it.

Mr Speaker, the intention was not to deny the information to the committee. The intention was to allow the government to present the information in the new format, that it had decided to do so, and to have an opportunity to explain that at a timing which was suitable to it. That was not a reason to deny the information to the committee.

Mr Speaker, it is interesting in reflecting on the committee's response to this issue that it did not seek to request the information from me. Members would almost certainly argue that it should not have to, and I accept that, but it is interesting to contrast the approach of the committee in relation to the Health memo, where it sought all documents and called for papers, whereas it did not do so in relation to this other information. I cannot know what was the reason behind that, but it was a markedly different approach.

Given that, Mr Speaker, I think that it is clear that my judgment was not the appropriate one at the time and it is a matter that, having reflected on the Hansard, causes me some regret, because I understand the need for committees to call for papers and information. I have sat on committees and I have done that as a member of a committee. I am prepared to accept that I made a mistake and to apologise to the Assembly for it. Whether or not members choose to pursue a privileges investigation in relation to my evidence is a matter for the Assembly to decide.


(9.10): I have been looking back on the report on the unauthorised diversion and receipt of a member's emails, a report of another privileges committee that was held in 2002, and it might be useful to go over the section on contempt for members. It reads:

Erskine May, the guide to British parliamentary practice, describes contempt as:

...any act or omission which obstructs or impedes either House of Parliament in the performance of its functions, or which obstructs or impedes any Member or officer of such House in the discharge of his duty, or which has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results may be treated as a contempt even though there is no precedent to the offence. It is therefore impossible to list every act which might be considered to amount to a contempt.

The report went on to say:

It is reasonable to conclude...that for an action to constitute a contempt it should include the following:

(i) improper interference in the free performance by a member of his or her duties as a member;

(ii) serious interference with a member's ability to perform his or her duties as a member;

(iii) an intention by the person responsible for the action to improperly interfere with the free performance by a member of his or her duties as a member; and

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