is the fifth edition of the Committee of Privileges’ general report on its
operations. The committee believes it is useful to collect in one place the
primary materials of parliamentary privilege, together with the significant
body of case law accumulated through so many inquiries. This edition includes
coverage and analysis of all reports between the publication of the last
edition (in August 2002) and December 2005, 17 reports in all, as well as
revision of material published in earlier editions.
issues which have long been of concern to the committee were brought to a
satisfactory conclusion in the period covered by this latest edition.
Procedures for the execution of search warrants on the offices of senators and
members of the House of Representatives were finalised under a memorandum of
understanding signed by the Presiding Officers, the Attorney-General and the
Minister for Justice and Customs early in 2005. Yet more cases of unauthorised
disclosure of draft reports of committees were referred to the committee but
were generally incapable of a satisfactory resolution. In response, the
committee undertook a radical re-examination of the basis of the contempt of
unauthorised disclosure of committee proceedings. The recommendations of its
122nd report, adopted in the form of a sessional order in October
2005, were designed to ensure that serious cases of unauthorised disclosure, particularly
of in camera evidence, would continue to be referred to the committee, but that
committees would be encouraged to take greater responsibility for their own
internal discipline. The conclusions of the 122nd report are covered
in detail in chapter 5 and the committee expects that it will conduct a
review of these arrangements before the end of the current Parliament.
edition also covers the committee’s first inquiry into an alleged contempt
under the resolutions relating to the registration of senators’ interests, as
well as a report on the privilege implications of joint meetings of the Houses,
held to receive addresses from foreign heads of state.
much of the period covered by this report, the committee was supported by Miss Anne Lynch, its secretary since 1988 and regular provider of
research assistance since joining the Department of the Senate in 1973. Anne retired in June 2005 after more than 32 years’ service to the Senate,
during which time she was an internationally acknowledged expert on
parliamentary privilege. The committee records its gratitude for her service
and its best wishes for the years ahead.
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