Page 2339 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 5 August 2015

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(a) (i) Criminal proceedings are active when a charge has been made or a summons to appear has been issued.

(ii) Criminal proceedings cease to be active when they are concluded by verdict and sentence or discontinuance, or in cases dealt with by courts martial, after the conclusion of the mandatory post-trial review.

I remind members that any discussion, as opposed to the merest passing mention, about charges in relation to the CFMEU and the royal commission that was on foot in the ACT recently would be contrary to the Assembly’s continuing resolution.

Likewise, this Assembly has in the past admonished members for speculating on the guilt or innocence of people charged in the ACT. I remind members of the legal convention of being innocent until proven guilty and I will not tolerate any discussion on this motion that wanders into the current court proceedings.

That said, I believe that there is plenty of precedence and guidance in relation to judicial processes like a royal commission and I refer members in particular to paragraph 10.103 and also paragraph 10.102 in part and the footnote that goes with it. I will read those. Paragraph 10.103 of the Companion says:

The Senate has also taken the view that royal commissions and boards of inquiry which are not courts and to which the convention does not strictly apply are unlikely to be influenced in their findings by parliamentary debate. However, similar issues can arise. Clearly, the potential for the appearance of political interference exists even if debate in the legislature had no influence on the process and the findings of an inquiry.

Paragraph 10.102 claims that it would be foolish for members to deny themselves “the opportunity to debate important matters of public concern by the rigid application of a convention rendered redundant by the discussion” in other places. And I will also read the footnote that goes with this:

Advice to the Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs …—

in July 2001—

The Clerk of the Senate noted that the matter which the committee was examining and which was … subject of a coronial inquest … ‘has been the subject of extensive public discussion which … weakens the case for restraint on the part of the Senate or its committees’.

In exercising my discretion on the matter in accordance with the continuing resolution I will have those matters in mind and I remind members once again of their responsibility to maintain the innocence of those accused until proven otherwise. I remind members also of the dignity of the Legislative Assembly.

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