Procedures to be
observed by Senate Committees for the protection of witnesses
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In their dealings with witnesses, all committees of the
Senate shall observe the following procedures:
witness shall be invited to attend a committee meeting to give evidence. A
witness shall be summoned to appear (whether or not the witness was previously
invited to appear) only where the committee has made a decision that the
circumstances warrant the issue of a summons.
a committee desires that a witness produce documents relevant to the
committee's inquiry, the witness shall be invited to do so, and an order that
documents be produced shall be made (whether or not an invitation to produce
documents has previously been made) only where the committee has made a decision
that the circumstances warrant such an order.
witness shall be given reasonable notice of a meeting at which the witness is
to appear, and shall be supplied with a copy of the committee's order of
reference, a statement of the matters expected to be dealt with during the
witness's appearance, and a copy of these procedures. Where appropriate, a
witness shall be supplied with a transcript of relevant evidence already taken.
witness shall be given opportunity to make a submission in writing before
appearing to give oral evidence.
appropriate, reasonable opportunity shall be given for a witness to raise any
matters of concern to the witness relating to the witness's submission or the
evidence the witness is to give before the witness appears at a meeting.
witness shall be given reasonable access to any documents that the witness has
produced to a committee.
witness shall be offered, before giving evidence, the opportunity to make
application, before or during the hearing of the witness's evidence, for any or
all of the witness's evidence to be heard in private session, and shall be
invited to give reasons for any such application. If the application is not
granted, the witness shall be notified of reasons for that decision.
giving any evidence in private session a witness shall be informed whether it
is the intention of the committee to publish or present to the Senate all or
part of that evidence, that it is within the power of the committee to do so,
and that the Senate has the authority to order the production and publication
of undisclosed evidence.
chairman of a committee shall take care to ensure that all questions put to
witnesses are relevant to the committee's inquiry and that the information
sought by those questions is necessary for the purpose of that inquiry. Where a
member of a committee requests discussion of a ruling of the chairman on this
matter, the committee shall deliberate in private session and determine whether
any question which is the subject of the ruling is to be permitted.
Where a witness objects to answering any question put to the witness on any
ground, including the ground that the question is not relevant or that the
answer may incriminate the witness, the witness shall be invited to state the
ground upon which objection to answering the question is taken. Unless the
committee determines immediately that the question should not be pressed, the
committee shall then consider in private session whether it will insist upon an
answer to the question, having regard to the relevance of the question to the
committee's inquiry and the importance to the inquiry of the information sought
by the question. If the committee determines that it requires an answer to the
question, the witness shall be informed of that determination and the reasons
for the determination, and shall be required to answer the question only in
private session unless the committee determines that it is essential to the
committee's inquiry that the question be answered in public session. Where a
witness declines to answer a question to which a committee has required an
answer, the committee shall report the facts to the Senate.
Where a committee has reason to believe that evidence about to be given may
reflect adversely on a person, the committee shall give consideration to
hearing that evidence in private session.
Where a witness gives evidence reflecting adversely on a person and the
committee is not satisfied that evidence is relevant to the committee's
inquiry, the committee shall give consideration to expunging that evidence from
the transcript of evidence, and to forbidding the publication of that evidence.
Where evidence is given which reflects adversely on a person and action of the
kind referred to in paragraph (12) is not taken in respect of the evidence, the
committee shall provide reasonable opportunity for that person to have access
to that evidence and to respond to that evidence by written submission and
appearance before the committee.
witness may make application to be accompanied by counsel and to consult
counsel in the course of a meeting at which the witness appears. In considering
such an application, a committee shall have regard to the need for the witness
to be accompanied by counsel to ensure the proper protection of the witness. If
an application is not granted, the witness shall be notified of reasons for
witness accompanied by counsel shall be given reasonable opportunity to consult
counsel during a meeting at which the witness appears.
officer of a department of the Commonwealth or of a State shall not be asked to
give opinions on matters of policy, and shall be given reasonable opportunity
to refer questions asked of the officer to superior officers or to a Minister.
Reasonable opportunity shall be afforded to witnesses to make corrections of
errors of transcription in the transcript of their evidence and to put before a
committee additional material supplementary to their evidence.
Where a committee has any reason to believe that any person has been improperly
influenced in respect of evidence which may be given before the committee, or
has been subjected to or threatened with any penalty or injury in respect of
any evidence given, the committee shall take all reasonable steps to ascertain
the facts of the matter. Where the committee considers that the facts disclose
that a person may have been improperly influenced or subjected to or threatened
with penalty or injury in respect of evidence which may be or has been given
before the committee, the committee shall report the facts and its conclusions
to the Senate.
constituting contempts in relation to Senate committees
derogating from its power to determine that particular acts constitute
contempt, the Senate declares as a matter of general guidance, that the
following breaches may be treated by the Senate as contempts.
Interference with witnesses
shall not, by fraud, intimidation, force or threat of any kind, by the offer or
promise of any inducement or benefit of any kind, or by other improper means,
influence another person in respect of any evidence given or to be given before
the Senate or a committee, or induce another person to refrain from giving such
Molestation of witnesses
shall not inflict any penalty or injury upon, or deprive of any benefit,
another person on account of any evidence given or to be given before the
Senate or a committee.
Offences by witnesses etc.
witness before the Senate or a committee shall not:
excuse, refuse to make an oath or affirmation or give similar undertaking to
tell the truth when required to do so;
excuse, refuse to answer any relevant question put to the witness when required
to do so; or
give any evidence
which the witness knows to be false or misleading in a material particular, or
which the witness does not believe on reasonable grounds to be true or
substantially true in every material particular.
shall not, without reasonable excuse:
refuse or fail to
attend before the Senate or a committee when ordered to do so; or
b.refuse or fail to
produce documents, or to allow the inspection of documents, in accordance with
an order of the Senate or of a committee.
shall not wilfully avoid service of an order of the Senate or of a committee.
shall not destroy, damage, forge or falsify any document required to be
produced by the Senate or by a committee.
Unauthorised disclosure of evidence etc.
shall not, without the authority of the Senate or a committee, publish or
a document that has
been prepared for the purpose of submission, and submitted, to the Senate or a
committee and has been directed by the Senate or a committee to be treated as
evidence taken in private session or as a document confidential to the Senate
or the committee;
b.any oral evidence
taken by the Senate or a committee in private session, or a report of any such
oral evidence; or
any proceedings in
private session of the Senate or a committee or any report of such proceedings,
the Senate or a committee has published, or authorised the publication of, that
document, that oral evidence or a report of those proceedings.
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