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Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Page: 5063

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ) (18:43): The Speaker has agreed to the following statement which I make to the House in relation to the matter of privilege raised by the honourable member for Sturt.

Earlier today the honourable member for Sturt raised as a matter of privilege that, in his statement to the House on 21 May 2012, the honourable member for Dobell deliberately misled the House.

The honourable member for Sturt provided detailed information in relation to the statement by the honourable member for Dobell and the reasons that he believed the honourable member had intended to mislead the House in making the statement.

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, no Speaker has ever given precedence to allow such a matter to be referred to the Committee of Privileges and Members' Interests.

To establish that contempt has been committed it would need to be shown that: (1) a statement had in fact been misleading; (2) the member knew at the time the statement was incorrect; and (3) the misleading had been deliberate. There needs to be prima facie evidence of these matters to establish a case for precedence to be given to a motion.

The Speaker has considered the principal information provided by the honourable member for Sturt. He understands that this matter is surrounded by conflicting views. However, the matter of deliberately misleading the House is a very serious one and rightly there should be prima facie evidence that the House has been misled and that the misleading has been deliberate.

While it does not seem that a prima facie case has been made out in terms of the detail that Speakers have always required in relation to such allegations, the Speaker understands the concerns many members have about the matters raised by the honourable member for Sturt.

While in accordance with the practice of the House, precedence as of right to a motion for this matter to be referred to the Committee of Privileges and Members' Interests cannot be given, it is still open to the House itself to determine a course of action in relation to this matter.