Page 5511 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2011

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Privileges 2011—Select Committee


MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (11.09): Pursuant to the order of the Assembly of 20 September 2011, I present the following report:

Privileges 2011—Select Committee—Report—Possible improper interference with an Assembly committee in the exercise of its authority, dated 16 November 2011, including additional and dissenting comments (Mr Seselja), together with the relevant minutes of proceedings.

I move:

That the report be noted.

First off, before I go to the findings of the report, I would like to acknowledge the other committee members, Mr Corbell and Mr Seselja. I would particularly like to thank the Clerk, Tom Duncan, the secretary to this committee, and Janice Rafferty, the assistant secretary, for their extreme assistance to this committee and also for their forbearance.

As stated in previous privileges committee reports, the practice of the Assembly and of the commonwealth houses has been to use their powers to investigate and punish contempt sparingly. The Senate privileges committee has generally confined its investigations to serious matters potentially involving significant obstruction of the Senate, and now regarded as a culpable intention on the part of the person concerned, as essential for the establishment of contempt. It should be noted also that since the passage of the Parliamentary Privileges Act in 1987, some 24 years ago, the House of Representatives has only made one finding of contempt.

In terms of this inquiry, after receiving the reference the committee wrote to each of the members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts seeking submissions on the inquiry. It also wrote to the Chief Minister and the nominee for the position of Auditor-General, now the appointed Auditor-General, to seek a submission. All submissions were authorised for publication, with one initial exception.

In the opinion of the committee, one of the submissions received contained possible adverse mentions. So in accordance with standing order 264A, the committee wrote to those persons giving them an opportunity to respond to any possible adverse mention. Once those responses had been received, they were authorised for publication along with the submission that contained the possible adverse mentions.

In addition to seeking submissions from those involved in the terms of reference, the committee wrote to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts to obtain copies of all documents authorised for publication, which it subsequently received. After receiving the documents authorised for publication by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, the committee wrote again to the chair of the public accounts committee seeking all documents relevant to that committee’s consideration of the

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