Chapter 20 | Parliamentary privilege

Privilege defined

Distinction between breach of privilege and contempt

The Commonwealth Parliament’s privilege powers


Reference to House of Commons practice

Statutory provisions

Judicial interpretation of section 49

No new privilege may be created except by legislation

The privilege of freedom of speech

Absolute and qualified privilege

Proceedings in Parliament

Search warrants where parliamentary privilege may be involved

Privilege attaching to Hansard reports

Use of Hansard and other documents in courts or other tribunals

Restriction on use of or reference to parliamentary records

Arrangements for the production of parliamentary records

Waiver of privilege by House not possible

Matters arising when House is not sitting


‘Brisbane line’ Royal Commission

Sankey ‘Loans affair’ prosecution

Order of Mr Justice Begg in the case of Uren v. John Fairfax & Sons

Royal Commission into Australia’s Security and Intelligence Agencies

Cases involving Mr Justice Murphy and Judge Foord

Case involving charges against a Member

Freedom of information

Other privileges

Freedom from arrest

House to be informed of the detention of a Member

Extension of privilege to others

Exemption from jury service

Exemption from attendance as a witness

Acts constituting breaches of privilege and contempts


In the presence of the House or a committee

Disobedience to the rules or orders of the House

Abuse of the right of petition

Forged or falsified documents

Conspiracy to deceive

Deliberately misleading the House

Corruption in the execution of their office as Members

Lobbying for reward or consideration

Improper interference with and obstruction of Members and House employees

Attempts by improper means to influence Members in the performance of their duties

The offer of a benefit or bribe

Intimidation etc. of Members

‘Bankstown Observer’ (Browne/Fitzpatrick) Case

Case involving Hon. G. Scholes MP

Cases involving letters written by Members

Case involving Mr Katter MP

Brown Case (UK)

Chairman of the Sydney Stock Exchange Case

Offences against witnesses

Berthelsen Case and other cases

Acts tending indirectly to obstruct Members in the discharge of their duty

Reflections on Members

Premature publication or disclosure of committee proceedings, evidence and reports

Other offences

Interference with the administration of the Parliament

Penal jurisdiction of the House

Power and source


Form of warrant

Imposition of a fine

Reprimand or admonishment


Exclusion of persons from precincts

Punishment of members

Apology by Member


Former power of expulsion

Manner of dealing with privilege and contempt

Raising of matter

Determination of whether a matter can be accorded precedence

Matter not accorded precedence

Matter arising in committee proceedings

Matter arising when the House is not sitting

Recommended changes

Committee of Privileges and Members’ Interests


Authority and jurisdiction



Proceedings following report

Records of the committee

Citizen’s right of reply

Submissions from persons referred to in debate

Limitations and safeguards in the use of privilege