Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 4165 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

provide a greater understanding of what the Assembly is doing and of the privileges and practices of the Assembly so that this issue will not arise again in the future.

Whilst we found the officers responsible for authoring and disseminating the budget estimates 2003 document to be in contempt of the Assembly, we recommended that no further action be taken as they have apologised and proper steps were taken within the department to make sure that the officers concerned were fully aware of the seriousness of their actions and will not endeavour to undertake them again.

The inquiry was quite complex, given the scope of it and the number of questions before the committee, and I thank the Assembly for its indulgence in granting the committee an extension of time to examine further the evidence before it so that it could make sure that this report was one that the committee considered fully addressed the issues that were put before the committee by the Assembly. The report makes recommendations that I believe are quite clear about where it is we think things should go.

I thank also the members of the committee, Mr Stefaniak and Mr Quinlan, for their time and for their thoughtful consideration of the issues before the committee. I would also like to thank the secretary, Mr Pender, for his dedicated research into a number of similar incidents in terms of breach of privilege and contempt and how that should be reflected in the Assembly. I also thank the clerk for his support in that regard.

The committee found some gaps in knowledge and some gaps in respect for how the Assembly operates and steps need to be taken to address those. I hope that this report will provide the basis for that further work, so that we will all have a greater understanding of the respect with which committees should be treated as well as the work of this Assembly and the privileges of this Assembly. If we are to regard this Assembly as a parliament in Australia, it is important that we give it the same respect as other parliaments have received in terms of their privileges.

I commend the report to the Assembly and hope that the recommendations will be acted on in a timely manner.

MR STEFANIAK (10.42): Firstly, I thank my fellow committee members and Jim Pender for their diligence. The report is fairly short, but the committee met on quite a number of occasions. These matters are always difficult. I think that this is only the second time in this Assembly's history that there has been a finding of contempt. I will deal now with the various matters before the Assembly. I will also refer, of course, to my dissenting comments in relation to two of those matters.

Firstly, dealing with the leak to the media, all persons who responded to the inquiries of the committee did so appropriately, but no-one was able to shed any light on the particular subject that the committee was examining. Indeed, the responses raised some doubts as to whether the ABC journalists, in commenting on the two inquiries, had seen the reports at all. The committee approached the ABC reporter in question, Mr James Gruber. He was unable because of normal journalistic ethics to assist the committee on the source of the story he reported. That was probably of no surprise to the committee.

The committee was unable to attribute whether there had been a leak in each case and, if there was a leak, the origin of such a leak. There was fairly strong evidence in relation to

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .