Chapter 30 - Witnesses

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183  Evidence given elsewhere by senators or officers

A senator or officer of the Senate, or a person involved in recording the proceedings of the Senate or a committee, may not give evidence elsewhere in respect of proceedings of the Senate or the committee, without the permission of the Senate, or, if the President is authorised to give that permission, of the President.

Amendment history

Adopted: 19 August 1903 as SO 386 but renumbered as SO 382 for the first printed edition

1989 revision: Old SO 396 renumbered as SO 183; language simplified and terminology modernised (for example, by replacing “a Shorthand Writer employed to take down speeches in, or minutes of evidence before the Senate, or any Committee thereof” with “a person involved in recording the proceedings …”)

Commentary

The standing order is essentially that adopted in 1903. The 1989 revision gave it a facelift by modernising the language and adding the capacity for the President to be authorised by the Senate to grant permission on its behalf.

It is a standing order that is used infrequently. The first such instance occurred in 1996, when, on 27 June, the Senate authorised the former secretary of the Select Committee on ABC Management and Operations to give evidence in a defamation case between two senators.[1] The motion was proposed by an opposition senator and agreed to on the voices. The Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Hill (Lib, SA), pointed out that such permission was in no way intended to affect the provisions of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 and, as such, no evidence could be given by the witness that would substantively assist either party to the case.[2]

See Australian Senate Practice, 6th edition, pp.880–81, for examples of Hansard staff being called to give evidence in court.

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