Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 July 2008) . . Page.. 2428 ..
Legal Affairs—Standing Committee
Statement by Speaker
MR SPEAKER: Members, on 27 June 2008, Mr Corbell gave written notice of a possible breach of privilege concerning certain aspects of the conduct of the chair of the inquiry of the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs into ACT fire and emergency service arrangements. Mr Corbell indicated that he had received advice that the request for the documents which he had received as the responsible minister was not authorised by the committee, and he sought my advice as to whether there has been any breach of the standing orders or privilege.
I present a copy of Mr Corbell’s letter for the information of members:
Alleged breach of privilege—Letter to the Speaker from Mr Corbell (Minister for Police and Emergency Services), dated 27 June 2008.
Under the provisions of standing order 71, I must determine, as soon as practicable, whether or not the matter merits precedence over other business. If, in my opinion, the matter does merit precedence, I must inform the Assembly of the decision, and the member who raised the matter may move a motion without notice and forthwith to refer the matter to a select committee appointed by the Assembly for that purpose. If, in my opinion, the matter does not merit precedence, I must inform the member in writing and may also inform the Assembly of the decision.
I am not required to judge whether there has been a breach of privilege or a contempt of the Assembly; I can only judge whether the matter merits precedence.
I am unaware of how Mr Corbell received this advice, however, the allegation that a member has purported to send a request on behalf of a committee when the committee has not considered it is a serious one. This matter was also raised in evidence before the legal affairs committee by Mr Corbell. Having considered the matter, I have concluded that the matter does merit precedence over other business.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.35): Mr Speaker, I move:
(1) a Select Committee on Privileges be established to inquire into and report on the actions of Mr Stefaniak as the Chair of the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs in relation to a letter written to Mr Corbell on 16 June 2008 as part of the Committee’s inquiry into ACT fire and emergency services arrangements;
(2) the Committee is to consider: