Privilege

On 25 February 1988 the Senate passed 11 resolutions, setting out procedures and making declarations in relation to matters of parliamentary privilege. These resolutions are in a separate section of this volume.

35 Witnesses – powers of the Senate

  1. The Senate affirms that it possesses the powers and privileges of the House of Commons as conferred by section 49 of the Constitution and has the power to summon persons to answer questions and produce documents, files and papers.
  2. Subject to the determination of all just and proper claims of privilege which may be made by persons summoned, it is the obligation of all such persons to answer questions and produce documents.
  3. The fact that a person summoned is an officer of the Public Service, or that a question related to his departmental duties, or that a file is a departmental one does not, of itself, excuse or preclude an officer from answering the question or from producing the file or part of a file.
  4. Upon a claim of privilege based on an established ground being made to any question or to the production of any documents, the Senate shall consider and determine each such claim.

(16 July 1975 J.831)

36 Interference with witnesses

The Senate—

  1. reaffirms the long-established principle that it is a serious contempt for any person to attempt to deter or hinder any witness from giving evidence before the Senate or a Senate committee, or to improperly influence a witness in respect of such evidence; and
  2. warns all persons against taking any action which might amount to attempting to improperly influence a witness in respect of such evidence.

(13 September 1984 J.1129)

Note: See also the Privilege Resolutions, 25 February 1988, no. 6, paragraphs (10) and (11).

37 Detention of senators

  1. The Senate reaffirms its resolutions of 26 February 1980, as follows:
    1. It is the right of the Senate to receive notification of the detention of its members.
    2. Should a senator for any reason be held in custody pursuant to the order or judgment of any court, other than a court martial, the court ought to notify the President of the Senate, in writing, of the fact and the cause of the senator's being placed in custody.
    3. Should a senator be ordered to be held in custody by any court martial or officer of the Defence Force, the President of the Senate ought to be notified by His Excellency the Governor-General of the fact and the cause of the senator's being placed in custody.
  2. Where a senator is arrested, and the identity of the senator is known to the arresting police, the police ought to notify the President of the Senate of the fact and the cause of the senator's arrest.

(18 March 1987 J.1693)

38 Meetings after dissolution of House of Representatives

The Senate declares that where the Senate, or a committee of the Senate which is empowered to do so, meets following a dissolution of the House of Representatives and prior to the next meeting of that House, the powers, privileges and immunities of the Senate, of its members and of its committees, as provided by section 49 of the Constitution, are in force in respect of such meeting and all proceedings thereof.

(22 October 1984 J.1276)

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