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

Police powers in the precincts

Section 15 of the 1987 Act indicates that the police may exercise in the precincts the powers which they possess under the ordinary law.

By long-established practice, however, police do not conduct any investigations, make arrests, or execute any process (e.g., search warrants) in the parliamentary precincts without consultation with the Presiding Officers.

Section 8 of the Parliamentary Precincts Act provides for the Australian Federal Police to arrest and hold in custody persons required to be detained by order of either House, under general arrangements agreed to by the Presiding Officers and the minister responsible for the police.

Section 9 provides for members of the Australian Protective Service to perform functions in the precincts in accordance with general arrangements made between the Presiding Officers and the minister responsible for the service.

Section 10 provides for the functions of the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to offences committed in the precincts to be performed in accordance with general arrangements agreed to by the Presiding Officers and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Arrangements made under these provisions were laid before the Senate on 28 February 1989 (J.1384).

See also above, under Subpoenas, search warrants and members, for the execution of search warrants in the premises of senators.

In 1978 the Committee of Privileges examined security measures for Parliament House introduced by the Presiding Officers. The Committee considered that the measures did not affect the powers or immunities of the Senate (3rd report, PP 22/1978).

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