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Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Page: 19


The SPEAKER (12:57): On the last sitting day of 2015 the Manager of Opposition Business raised as a matter of privilege the statements in the House of the Special Minister of State in relation to matters concerning Mr James Ashby and the former Speaker, Mr Slipper. He presented to the House various material to which he had referred. The Manager of Opposition Business asked me to consider giving precedence to a motion to refer to the Committee of Privileges and Members' Interests whether the minister's statements in the House from 23 November to 3 December 2015 had deliberately misled the House such as to constitute an offence of improper interference with the free exercise of the House of its authority or functions.

I have been able to speak to the Manager of Opposition Business about these matters, but I should also report back to the House on them. Deliberately misleading the House is one of the matters that can be found to be a contempt. While claims that members have deliberately misled the House have been raised as matters of privilege or contempt on a number of occasions, to date no Speaker of the House has found that a prima facie case has been made out. However, the House has agreed to refer to the committee such a matter in relation to the former member for Dobell. I have told the Manager of Opposition Business that on the information available to me the circumstances of the matters which he has raised would not justify a departure from the position that has been taken by my predecessors.