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Monday, 10 November 2008
Page: 10232


Mr RAGUSE (12:02 PM) —I present the report of the Committee of Privileges and Members’ Interests entitled Review of procedures of the committee.

Ordered that the report be made a parliamentary paper.


Mr RAGUSE —by leave—This report is issued as a discussion paper on proposed procedures for the House of Representatives Committee of Privileges and Members’ Interests to provide natural justice and procedural fairness for those involved in the committee processes. By way of background, in November 2002 the committee advised the House that it had developed procedures that it would follow for witnesses and others who may be involved with the committee in its consideration of matters of privilege. The procedures were developed to provide for natural justice and procedural fairness for witnesses before the committee.

During the 41st Parliament the committee commenced a review of these procedures. As part of the review the committee sought advice on its procedures from two leading academics in the field of parliamentary privilege—Professor Geoffrey Lindell and Professor Gerard Carney. In addition to proposing procedures for the committee and the House, Professors Lindell and Carney also proposed the transfer of the penal jurisdiction of the House of Representatives to the courts. The committee invited comment on the paper before asking the secretariat to review the paper and propose a response to the recommendations made by Professors Carney and Lindell. The response includes proposed procedures for the committee’s consideration of matters of privilege.

The committee sought the views of the Clerk and Deputy Clerk of the House on the proposed secretariat response. In summary, the Clerk and Deputy Clerk (1) did not support the transfer of the penal jurisdiction of the House of Representatives to the courts and (2) supported appropriate procedures for the committee to ensure the protection of procedural fairness and natural justice and considered the procedures proposed in the secretariat paper were reasonable. In presenting this matter for discussion, the committee indicates that its initial view is that it does not support the transfer of the penal jurisdiction of the House of Representatives to the courts. It is therefore important that the committee has appropriate procedures to ensure natural justice and procedural fairness for all persons involved in the committee’s processes.

The committee invites comment on the proposed procedures for the protection of witnesses before the Committee of Privileges and Members’ Interests before it reports back to the House to make recommendations for the formal implementation of the procedures. The committee also notes that there are some additional procedures that relate to the way matters of privilege are dealt with by the House after the committee has examined the matters and reported. The committee proposes that these matters could be covered by a resolution of the House. The committee welcomes the views of members and others on the proposed procedures.