2       Procedures for the protection of witnesses before the Privileges Committee

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Parliamentary Privilege

In considering any matter referred to it which may involve, or gives rise to any allegation of, a contempt, the Committee of Privileges shall observe the procedures set out in this resolution, in addition to the procedures required by the Senate for the protection of witnesses before committees. Where this resolution is inconsistent with the procedures required by the Senate for the protection of witnesses, this resolution shall prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.

(1) A person shall, as soon as practicable, be informed, in writing, of the nature of any allegations, known to the committee and relevant to the committee’s inquiry, against the person, and of the particulars of any evidence which has been given in respect of the person.

(2) The committee shall extend to that person all reasonable opportunity to respond to such allegations and evidence by:

(a) making written submission to the committee;

(b) giving evidence before the committee;

(c) having other evidence placed before the committee; and

(d) having witnesses examined before the committee.

(3) Where oral evidence is given containing any allegation against, or reflecting adversely on, a person, the committee shall ensure as far as possible that that person is present during the hearing of that evidence, and shall afford all reasonable opportunity for that person, by counsel or personally, to examine witnesses in relation to that evidence.

(4) A person appearing before the committee may be accompanied by counsel, and shall be given all reasonable opportunity to consult counsel during that appearance.

(5) A witness shall not be required to answer in public session any question where the committee has reason to believe that the answer may incriminate the witness.

(6) Witnesses shall be heard by the committee on oath or affirmation.

(7) Hearing of evidence by the committee shall be conducted in public session, except where:

(a) the committee accedes to a request by a witness that the evidence of that witness be heard in private session;

(b) the committee determines that the interests of a witness would best be protected by hearing evidence in private session; or

(c) the committee considers that circumstances are otherwise such as to warrant the hearing of evidence in private session.

(8) The committee may appoint, on terms and conditions approved by the President, counsel to assist it.

(9) The committee may authorise, subject to rules determined by the committee, the examination by counsel of witnesses before the committee.

(10) As soon as practicable after the committee has determined findings to be included in the committee’s report to the Senate, and prior to the presentation of the report, a person affected by those findings shall be acquainted with the findings and afforded all reasonable opportunity to make submissions to the committee, in writing and orally, on those findings. The committee shall take such submissions into account before making its report to the Senate.

(11) The committee may recommend to the President the reimbursement of costs of representation of witnesses before the committee. Where the President is satisfied that a person would suffer substantial hardship due to liability to pay the costs of representation of the person before the committee, the President may make reimbursement of all or part of such costs as the President considers reasonable.

(12) Before appearing before the committee a witness shall be given a copy of this resolution.

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