Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 26 August 2008) . . Page.. 3569 ..
241 (b). However, it also concluded that Ms MacDonald had no intention to improperly interfere with the free performance of the legal affairs committee. Furthermore, the committee has found that Ms MacDonald had a reasonable excuse for the commission of the act within the meaning of standing order 278 (c) (ii). Therefore, the committee found that Ms MacDonald’s actions did not meet the criteria for contempt.
Similarly, the committee found that the minister revealed private deliberations of the committee to the Speaker in breach of standing order 241 (b), but that the breach was of a technical nature, was not intended to impede the work of the committee and, indeed, was required in order to ensure that the committee operated within its powers. Again, this does not constitute a contempt.
This inquiry was required. Although no serious offence or breach of privilege was found, this report and its recommendations, if they are adopted, will serve to improve the practices of the Standing Committee on Legal. Affairs and, it is hoped, will serve as a reminder to the rest of the Assembly’s committees of the importance of proper process being adhered to. The standard of these practices caused the events that led to this select committee being formed.
It is hoped that this report serves as a wake-up call for all involved. It is a unanimous report that has support from Labor and Liberal party members on the committee, and the Canberra Party representing the crossbench. I thank the other members of the committee—Mr Gentleman, the deputy chair, and Mrs Dunne. I also thank the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Mr Tom Duncan, and the Assistant Clerk, Ms Janice Rafferty, for their assistance.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (10.39): Privileges matters are important matters. As someone who has been the subject of a privileges inquiry, I know how stressful they are. On this occasion, I think that this matter has been brought to a satisfactory ending.
I draw members’ attention to what I think is the crux of the thing that underpins the decisions made—a reference on page 4 of the report in paragraph 2.6 to the 11th edition of Odgers. It hangs on the words “culpable intention”. What we have seen in this matter is that some things went wrong. Mr Mulcahy has dealt with those in enough detail, and they are further detailed in the report. But the underpinning of all this is that, when one considers whether is a matter of privilege and whether there has been a contempt, it is about the intent of the person to do particular things. It is my view that the summation of this in paragraph 2.6, as it is borne out in Odgers, is probably the most succinct way of doing it.
It was clearly the case that in relation to the people involved in this—the people who were named and asked to be inquired into—Mr Stefaniak and Ms MacDonald—and also the practices of the committee generally which sprang from that, there were things that were done incorrectly and perhaps not according to Hoyle, but the clear outcome is that, although there were sins of omission and sins of commission, they were of a small nature and there was not a culpable intention to undermine the workings of the committee. I think that all of the people who have been involved in this—members of the committee and the secretariat—who have had comments made about them were attempting to work in the best interests of the committee.