Chapter 2 - Parliamentary Privilege: immunities and powers of the Senate

Repetition of parliamentary statements

While statements made in the course of, or for purposes of or incidental to, parliamentary proceedings are protected by parliamentary privilege, the repetition of such statements not in those contexts is not so protected. Questions have arisen about what constitutes repetition, and the extent to which reference may be made to a protected statement to establish the meaning of an unprotected statement. The latter course is clearly prohibited by the law as elucidated by the 1987 Act. In the only relevant case in the federal sphere, two state judges appeared to think that the 1987 Act had to be either read down or held invalid to allow this to occur (Laurance v Katter 1996 141 ALR 447; for a further reference to this case, see above, under Is the 1987 Act too restrictive?). In other jurisdictions courts have held, wrongly, that such reference to protected statements may be made (Beitzel v Crabb 1992 2 VR 121; Buchanan v Jennings 2002 3 NZLR 145; Erglis v Buckley, 2004 2 Qd R 599; Toussaint v AG of St Vincent and the Grenadines 2007 1 WLR 2825).

The Senate Committee of Privileges presented a comprehensive report on this matter in June 2008, suggesting an amendment that could be made to the Parliamentary Privileges Act if the problem persisted and subject to a consideration of the issue across other jurisdictions (134th Report, PP 275/2008). (see Supplement)

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