Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 30 November 2017) . . Page.. 5395 ..
There are issues in relation to privilege and there is the possibility of contempt of the Assembly in that standing order 277A reflects that the Assembly must have power over its own decision-making and its decision-making cannot be impeded, and inaccurate information is one way in which the Assembly’s information can be impeded. This is why I have brought forward the first motion on the notice paper and the one that we are debating and why I eventually decided that, to be absolutely safe, or, to use the phrase, exercise an abundance of caution, we should refer the other matters to be inquired into as well.
Following discussion in this place on Tuesday and with Mr Rattenbury in particular we have come to a compromise position that ensures that in the future we can be sure that when we make decisions in this space those decisions are as safe as possible. Therefore the notion to refer the continuing resolution to the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure is a good, right one and one the Canberra Liberals fully support. As a means of dealing with this in the neatest possible way, I think Mr Rattenbury’s suggestion of referring previous appointments made by the Assembly to consider whether in hindsight they may be unsound is a good way of doing so.
As I said to Mr Rattenbury in private conversation, if it turns out that the committee for administration and procedure finds that they were unsound and that there may be a remedy for those previous decisions, then it would be open to the committee for administration and procedure to recommend the establishment of a privileges committee if they think they cannot deal with those issues themselves. The reporting dates suggested by Mr Rattenbury give the committee sufficient time to address these issues.
I want to put on the record again that this is not, as the Chief Minister described it the other day, a witch-hunt. This is only tangentially attached to the issues confronting members and senators. This is an issue about the soundness and the safeness of decisions made in this place and to ensure we have a robust mechanism for dealing with casual vacancies so that we do not appoint someone who is wittingly or unwittingly ineligible to sit. I commend the motion and foreshadow that the Canberra Liberals will be supporting Mr Rattenbury’s amendment.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (12.09):
Omit all words after (1), substitute:
(a) the recent High Court decision that led to the disqualification and resignations of a number of Senators and Members of the Australian Parliament due to ineligibility to serve under clause 44 of the Australian Constitution;
(b) the provision of Continuing Resolution 9 of the Legislative Assembly relating to the procedure for electing a Senator for the ACT to fill a casual vacancy in the Senate;