Page 141 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 8 December 2004

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a discipline, an acknowledgment that there are circumstances, particularly in relation to the rights of people, in matters presented before courts for there not to be an appearance of outward pressure or outside pressure from persons of influence in relation to the conduct of matters before courts.

We saw a very real expression of this just recently in the ICAC in Sydney, where the Premier of New South Wales was called to account by ICAC about a comment that he made on a matter before the ICAC. It is a very real expression of the issue at the nub of this debate, and the direction which the Speaker has given—that a discipline must be imposed both in relation to the conduct of matters within parliament where it goes to a matter before a court and, similarly, in relation to the conduct of legal proceedings where it goes to matters that are covered by the Parliamentary Privileges Act.

That is why the sub judice rule was developed. It is a very real and live rule. It should be respected by people in this place. It needs to be respected in this place. It certainly has not been respected outside this place. We can go to comments made by the Leader of the Opposition just today in which the sub judice rule was completely abandoned. The Leader of the Opposition—

Mr Smyth: What did I say wrong?

MR STANHOPE: You went to matters before the court. You blatantly breached the sub judice rule, blatantly breached the—

Mr Stefaniak: You are the one who is blatantly breaching precedent.

Mrs Dunne: This is a convention of the parliament; it is not a convention for ABC Radio.

MR STANHOPE: You basically breached the rules of contempt and to that extent as a politician—

Mrs Dunne: You cannot breach the sub judice rule on 2CN.


MR STANHOPE: It was contemptuous. The rule was breached. And members should, out of respect for their position and respect for this place, understand the inappropriateness of commenting on matters before courts. Outside this place it is contemptuous; inside this place it is certainly in breach of the sub judice rule. It has been developed for a good reason. It does impinge on the proper administration of justice for members in this place—and indeed outside this place—to take positions on matters that have not been resolved or concluded in a court.

Just as we expect people outside this place to abide by rules in relation to contempt—as the Premier of New South Wales was required to in relation to the comments he made in relation to the ICAC—we should restrain ourselves in the comments we make outside this place on matters before the court. Inside this place, as the Speaker has indicated, we have a very real responsibility to ensure that we do not transgress, that we do not

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