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Monday, 18 August 2003
Page: 18717

Mr ALBANESE (3:48 PM) —Mr Speaker, you will recall that last Thursday I attempted to ask a question of you just prior to the adjournment debate, which is why it was not possible for me to raise it then. My question to you is: what scope is there for staff who are attacked in this House to have recourse to be able to provide an answer? I am sure that all of us engage in rigorous debate in this House, and I do not mind particularly what is said about me because I have the right to be able to answer that. But last Thursday, a member of my staff was criticised during both question time and the MPI debate. There is a code in this place that we all respect the hard work that our staff do for very little pay, which is normally not broken. That was broken last Thursday, and I ask: is there any recourse for staff to be able to answer any allegations or criticisms which are made of them?

The SPEAKER —I indicate to the member for Grayndler that parliamentary privilege is conferred only on parliamentarians, either in the House or in committees when they are appropriately convened. Parliamentary privilege is, to state the obvious, a great privilege which allows individuals both inside and outside the parliament to be criticised. I am not aware of anything that separates staff from any other Australian.