Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 June 2009) . . Page.. 2383 ..
The estimates report claims statements purporting to be statements of fact which are false; they lead to a recommendation in relation to privilege. Two of the members that signed this report which contains serious and grievous errors of fact have now nominated to adjudicate on whether the person that they have falsely accused in the estimates report is guilty of a breach of privilege.
It is a gross denial of justice to Mr Cormack. It is a gross denial of procedural fairness that Mr Cormack should now be called before a privileges committee composed of two members—in other words, a majority of the committee—who have prejudged the matter, who have actually indicated their decision, who have made conclusions of fact that are false.
I ask for your adjudication, Mr Speaker, of whether or not procedural fairness and justice can be accorded to Mr Cormack in these circumstances.
Mr Smyth: What is the point of order?
Mr Stanhope: The point of order is whether or not it is appropriate for two members who have prejudged this matter to sit on the privileges committee.
Mr Seselja: Just on Mr Stanhope’s query, the estimates committee made a recommendation that this be considered by the Assembly, and that is what has happened. The Assembly has now considered it, presumably in response to Mr Hanson’s letter. But Mr Corbell, in the debate today, made very clear his view that he did not believe there was a matter of privilege.
I do not understand Mr Stanhope’s point that Mr Corbell is appropriate to be on the committee, having expressed a very clear view in this place that there is no matter of privilege, as opposed to two members that signed off on a report that did not conclude there was a matter of privilege and that simply said this may be a matter of privilege. So if anyone has prejudged the issue, it would be Mr Corbell. The members who signed off on this committee recommendation simply referred it to the Assembly for consideration, without drawing conclusions.
Ms Bresnan: I would like to speak to Mr Stanhope’s comments as well.
MR SPEAKER: Yes, and then I am going to stop this and consider my view after you have spoken.
Ms Bresnan: I just note that I did refer to the fact again that I did amend the motion to include Mr Hanson’s press release and the letter and also draw attention to Mr Stanhope’s and my comments in Hansard of the committee process where I actually stated that there were issues with both items of correspondence. So his allegations are incorrect.
MR SPEAKER: Thank you, members. I will just take a moment to consider this.
Mr Stanhope, I am not aware of any standing order under which the point of conflict would necessarily exclude the members being nominated. There can be a debate about