back to article NBN leak pits minister against AFP commissioner

The Australian Federal Police's (AFP's) raid on Australian parliamentarians and their staffers over leaked documents on delays to the National Broadband Network (NBN) leaked-documents raid had more fallout over the weekend, with the AFP criticised for allowing an nbnTM staffer to photograph documents seized in Thursday night's …

  1. Mike Echo

    Oh dear

    Streisand effect much?

  2. Diogenes

    parliament has been dissolved therefore no privilege therefore do not to be placed under seal

    Following the double dissolution there are no members of the house of representatives and no senators. There is no House, no senate and no committees. This is the meaning of dissolution,

    Stephen Conroy is not presently a senator. He is a former senator and a candidate at the forthcoming election. Therefore he does not have parliamentary privilege.

    The House of Representatives Practice (6th edition), p. 224 states:

    Dissolution has the following effects on the House of Representatives:

    . All proceedings pending come to an end—that is, all business on the Notice Paper lapses.

    . Members of the House cease to be Members, although those who renominate continue to receive their allowances up to and including the day prior to the day fixed for the election. Ministers, however, continue in office and the Speaker is deemed to be Speaker for administrative purposes until a Speaker is chosen in the next Parliament.

    . Any sessional or other such non-ongoing orders or resolutions cease to have effect.

    . All House committees and joint committees established by Act or resolution cease to exist.

    1. Tac Eht Xilef

      Re: parliament has been dissolved therefore no privilege therefore do not to be placed under seal

      Catallaxy's argument aside:

      - Both MHRs & Senators continue to serve - and be paid - "at Her Majesty's pleasure" after prorogation/dissolution. Although not enshrined in the constitution or law, this is the fundamental principle which allows the government to operate in 'caretaker mode'.

      - The Senate is considered to be a 'continuing house', and - apart from considering bills/legislation - continues to operate after prorogation/dissolution of Parliament.

      - Under long-standing Senate orders & resolutions, committees may continue to operate & meet. The right to do so has never been challenged.

      (All the above can be found in Odger's Australian Senate Practice, 13th ed. No point relying on Odgers' "... Representatives ..." for that...)

      On top of that:

      - Presumably the documents relate to the recent "Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network". This committee concluded on May 4th, before Parliament was prorogued/dissolved.

      - Parliamentary privilege is inherent to "all proceedings of Parliament" and does not need to be claimed.

      - Most importantly: privilege is not restricted to parliamentarians. It can be invoked on anything presented by anybody to Parliament - documents, work product, or statements, by a politician, staffer, or Joe Public (or even on leaked documents presented by a former Senator during the course of his committee membership) - and the matter of whether it is actually subject to privilege or not is then decided by committee.

      - Amusingly, while I don't think the HoR committee can meet during the interregnum, the Senate committee probably can...

    2. glen waverley

      Re: parliament has been dissolved therefore no privilege therefore do not to be placed under seal

      At risk of making El Reg the go-to place for Australian constitutional law, I offer the following.

      As Conroy is/was/might-be-in-future a senator, Odgers Senate Practice could be relevant. So in chapter 2 we find this at

      "A question often asked is whether other persons, in providing information to members, are covered by parliamentary privilege. The answer to this question would also depend on the circumstances of the particular case and whether the provision of the information is "for purposes of or incidental to" proceedings in a House or a committee. If a person requests a senator to raise a matter in the Senate or a committee, or if a senator has in fact used information in parliamentary proceedings, such facts could determine whether the provision of the information is covered by the statutory expression.

      "The provision of information to members may attract a qualified privilege under the common law interest and duty doctrine (the provider and the recipient of the information each have an interest or a duty in giving or receiving the information).

      "It may also be held that there is a public interest immunity attaching to the provision of information to members of Parliament.

      "These questions have not been adjudicated, although there is at least one British judgment suggesting that the provision of information to members may attract the interest and duty principle." End of quote.

      Which seems to say it will all end up as a wig-fest and lots of lawyer's daughters will get lots of new ponies. As they should.

      And even tho the Senate is currently dissolved, actions that took place when it was in existence are almost certainly subject to immunity. (If they are subject to immunity at all.)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another mystery...

    In the linked interview, there was some legalistic to-and-fro about whether the NBN staffer was a special constable or a constable assisting. (From about 5min55.)

    Still wondering about why it was so important to get that out to the public.

    No doubt all will be revealed to a breathless public in due course.

  4. rtb61

    So the Liberal National Party blow 11 billion dollars on a network that was going to be scrapped at a loss and so they investigate the Labour Party because ???, election coming up and it is likely the Labour Party will win and investigate the Liberal Party for spending 11 billions dollars on a network that had a negative value associated with it, the cost of scrapping it, once it was replaced with fibre to the home.

    So how big a bribe was paid to gain that 11 billion dollars, don't know, lets investigate Labour instead.

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