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Tuesday, 12 May 1987
Page: 2997

Mr MILLAR —Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek leave of the House to speak for a few moments on the same matter.

Leave granted.

Mr MILLAR —As you, Mr Deputy Speaker, will be aware, I am a member of the Committee of Privileges and I am obliged to address this matter which now commands the attention of the House. Let me, firstly, say, in respect of my Committee colleague the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Tickner), that I respect totally his philosophical views on the matter of privilege. They could well be substantiated. But, as far as the Committee was concerned, it was obliged to address this referral from the House under the rules presently prevailing. I respectfully suggest that the submission of the honourable member for Hughes should be directed more to a substantial question of the whole matter of privilege. The Committee in this case was required to address the referral under the prevailing rules. The Committee has done exactly that. The comments offered by the honourable member for Hughes fairly warrant consideration by the House on the fundamental question of privilege and how that matter should be addressed.

The other point that I wish to touch upon briefly is the decision of the Committee to refer the matter to the House, seeking guidance as to the question of penalties without proceeding of its own initiative, as it may well have done, to determine penalties considered appropriate to the breach as the Committee perceived it. The Committee is mindful that in so doing it has perhaps exposed itself to the criticism that it lacked the intestinal fortitude to go all the way. That could not have been further from the Committee's thoughts in the matter. However, it felt that because over a period of years the House on occasions has come to the conclusion that the whole matter was beneath the dignity of the House, or has elected not to proceed with penalties, it was a far better arrangement, firstly, to test the opinion of the House as to whether the considered penalties should be applied. That being the case, if the House so decided, the Committee then was quite willing to readdress the matter and of its own volition determine what penalties should be recommended to the House in respect of the matter. I thank the House.