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Monday, 23 March 1987
Page: 1330


Madam SPEAKER —Earlier today the honourable member for Dawson raised, as a matter of privilege, reported statements of the Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Kelty. The honourable member for Dawson claimed that a statement attributed to Mr Kelty to the effect that he, Mr Kelty, had notified his legal advisers and would sue Mr Braithwaite or anyone else `who said he claimed more than he had spent' was an attempt to intimidate him, Mr Braithwaite, as a member of Parliament. There are precedents in this House and in the House of Commons for intimidation or attempted intimidation of honourable members to be regarded as a contempt or breach of privilege. House of Representatives Practice states:

To attempt by any means to influence a Member in his conduct as a Member is a breach of privilege. So too is any conduct having a tendency to impair a Member's independence in the future performance of his duty.

May states:

To attempt to influence Members in their conduct by threats is also a breach of privilege.

Later he says:

Conduct not amounting to a direct attempt to influence a Member in the discharge of his duties, but having a tendency to impair his independence in the future performance of his duty, will also be treated as a breach of privilege.

I have given careful consideration to the honourable member's statement in raising the matter and have examined the newspaper article to which he referred. I note the honourable member's concern at the statement attributed to Mr Kelty and also his concern that any such threat could intimidate other members should they be involved in such a situation. Whilst intimidation or attempted intimidation of honourable members is a well-recognised category of contempt, the information available to me in this particular matter does not disclose evidence of a prima facie case of breach of privilege or contempt and I have concluded that precedence should not be accorded to a motion on the matter.