Page 4193 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 16 November 2005

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any parliament to discuss a matter of public interest and not to be unnecessarily confined by the faint possibility of prejudice. There has to be a substantial danger.

Where there is a clear and substantial danger of prejudice in the court’s proceedings, the rule should apply. But when that is not likely or when the court is able to give robust directions—and the more superior the court, the more able it is to do so—then the rule should not be applied. It is a rule that actually should be applied sparingly. There should be real prejudice to a trial or a court hearing, as the motion says, in the sense of either creating an atmosphere where a jury would be unable to deal fairly with the evidence put before it or where the evidence of a future witness, whether for the prosecution or the defence, could be affected. If those things do not apply and if there is not the real possibility of that happening, debate should be allowed on the matter. For the last 30 years or so that has been the practice in the federal parliament.

The sub judice convention can only apply to matters awaiting or under adjudication by a court. It cannot apply to a matter where charges have not been laid or a statement of claim has not been filed, because those matters are not before a court. It is important to stress that and to have that as a rule because there have been occasions in the past where the sub judice convention has been observed when a matter is not before a court. Again, the practice is that it applies only to matters awaiting or under adjudication in the court. Odgers Australian Senate Practice and House of Representatives Practice outline the practice in other parliaments and Mr Seselja and I faithfully adhered to Australian Senate Practice and House of Representatives Practice in drafting this motion

Mr Quinlan made a series of interesting comments. He said that the opposition should hold back and let the coroner do her job, as the Stanhope Labor opposition did. I remind Mr Quinlan that, instead of appealing in an unprecedented way in October 2004, perhaps the government should have held back and let the coroner do her job. Enough said about that. I remind him, too, that during the 1998 elections there was an important coronial inquiry going on. There were a number of issues in relation to the government, but I seem to recall the government doing very well in that particular election, indeed increasing the vote in certain areas quite substantially.

I come now to Mr Hargreaves. He asked to whom the member would demonstrate. I think I answered that, Mr Hargreaves. It must be demonstrated to the Speaker. At any rate, you need not worry about that because Dr Foskey has moved an amendment to the motion and we have accepted that amendment. If that is your main concern, maybe you should support the amended motion.

Mr Hargreaves then made the interesting point that if it is the opposition that is demonstrating, it is too bad. I remind Mr Hargreaves that it is up to the Speaker to rule and the Speaker will rule regardless of who makes the submission. Indeed, Mr Speaker and previous Speakers on many occasions have ruled against matters raised by the government. Mr Hargreaves seemed to suggest that the Speaker is automatically going to rule against the opposition. I hope you are not reflecting on your own Speaker. To my recollection, every single Speaker in this place has ruled against points made by his or her own side, and that is proper to the role of the Speaker.

Mr Hargreaves talked about the danger of evidence being ruled inadmissible. I hark back to Australian Senate Practice and House of Representative Practice, which outline

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