Tuesday, 30 November 2021
Privileges and Members' Interests Committee
Mr Speaker, I wish to draw attention to and raise a matter of privilege concerning the report of the Committee of Privileges and Members' Interests that I have just presented. An article appeared on the Guardian website yesterday evening, which contained details of the committee's report and its deliberations. It is clear that this article is the result of the unauthorised disclosure of information contained in the report and the committee's private deliberations. I present a copy of the article, by Paul Karp of the Guardian, titled 'Rules that allowed Christian Porter to keep donors secret should be overhauled, committee finds.' This is a matter of considerable concern to me as chair of the committee. Members will be aware that, under the standing orders and the Parliamentary Privileges Act, unauthorised disclosure of committee documents and proceedings are prohibited and may amount to a contempt of the House where the disclosure causes or is likely to cause substantial interference with the work of the House or the committee system. In accordance with established practice, I intend for the committee to investigate this apparent breach in the first instance and report back to the House.
It is not the title but the task. It is not the office; it's the outcome. Clearly, the Privileges Committee's confidence has been surely offended. This is an important committee of the House where someone has decided to use the committee as a dirty rag and throw it in the bin. The article in the Guardian suggests the committee is partisan. It is not. There has never been a vote held in that committee under my stewardship. Any conversation around the timing and tabling of the report was my error—mine alone, no other's. The walls of the integrity, intention and spirit of the committee have been breached, and I take full responsibility for that breach.
Having regard to the integrity of the work of the committee and its important place in this House, I intend that on the first meeting in the next sitting—that is, the first sitting next year—I will tender my resignation as chair, allowing the Prime Minister of this nation to appoint a chair who will have the confidence of all the committee.