Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 2 November 2017) . . Page.. 4929 ..
The Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 confirms the extension of privilege to all words spoken and acts done for the purposes of, or incidental to, “proceedings in parliament”. Documents prepared by the Auditor-General for the purposes of, or incidental to, proceedings in parliament have been taken to receive the protection of parliamentary privilege. The same would apply to the other officers of the Assembly.
The Auditor-General received advice to suggest that section 6A of the Auditor-General Act, by setting out exhaustively the immunities of the audit office, could possibly be characterised as a law with respect to parliamentary privilege and that the terms of section 6A, by limiting reference to territory laws, might be construed as displacing these commonwealth laws.
The language that has been used in section 6A of the Auditor-General Act is replicated in section 6A of the Electoral Act and section 4A of the Ombudsman Act, meaning that any doubt about the application of commonwealth laws to the work of the Auditor-General would also extend to the Ombudsman and members of the Electoral Commission, who are also officers of the Assembly.
There is no suggestion that the Officers of the Legislative Assembly Legislation Amendment Bill 2013, which introduced these provisions, set about to displace those commonwealth laws. However, that such an interpretation could be available is reason enough that the Assembly consider amendments placing the matter beyond any doubt.
The amendments provide that the functions, powers, rights, immunities and obligations enjoyed by officers of the Assembly arise not just by virtue of territory laws but by virtue of all laws in force in the ACT. This would, of course, include both the self-government act and the Parliamentary Privileges Act. To achieve this end the amendments that I have just moved seek to amend the relevant provisions in order that the words “other territory laws” are replaced with the words “any other law in force in the ACT”.
I want to thank members for the support of all in this chamber. They are sensible amendments—those circulated today and those from the last sitting. I commend the amendments to the Assembly.
Amendments agreed to.
Bill, as a whole, as amended, agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Mr Gentleman presented the following papers:
Planning and Development Act, pursuant to subsection 242(2)—Statement of leases granted for the period 1 July to 30 September 2017.