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Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Page: 12264

The SPEAKER (15:18): Yesterday, the Manager of Opposition Business raised with me, as a potential matter of privilege, whether the Hansard record of an answer provided by the Minister for Agriculture, last week on 20 October, had been changed in a way that amounted to 'misconduct'. The Manager of Opposition Business asked whether such changes might relate to 'deliberately misleading the House, conspiracy to deceive, falsifying documents or disobedience to the rule or orders of the House'.

For this to be considered it is necessary for there to be evidence of a prime facie case that the alleged misconduct is conduct which, and I quote section 4 of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987, 'amounts, or is intended or likely to amount, to an improper interference with the free exercise by a House or committee of its authority or functions, or with the free performance by a member or the member's duties as a member'.

I note that the Minister for Agriculture attended in the House shortly after the matter was raised with me, and explained to the House the circumstances around the changes made to the Hansard record of his answer in the House, including that he had counselled his staff about their actions and requested the Hansard record to be corrected. Given the minister's explanation I have not reviewed the tapes. In light of the minister's explanation, it does not appear that a prime facie case as intimated above has been made out and I consider that the matter is now closed.