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Wednesday, 14 May 1997
Page: 3364

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Chapman) —On behalf of the President, I present to the Senate a request from solicitors acting for Senator O'Chee that counsel be briefed to appear as amicus curiae in a defamation action by Mr M.H. Rowley against Senator O'Chee in relation to a point of law concerning parliamentary privilege. On behalf of the President, I also present correspondence associated with this request.

The matter in issue concerns whether correspondence addressed to Senator O'Chee and information provided to him is subject to parliamentary privilege in that it was furnished for the purpose of, and incidental to, Senator O'Chee's participation in proceedings of the Senate.

It may be appropriate in some circumstances for the President to instruct counsel to appear in a case without a direction of the Senate. The President has, however, indicated to the solicitors in the correspondence that in this case the President would not undertake to instruct counsel except at the explicit direction of the Senate.