Tuesday, 15 June 2021
Under the provisions of standing order 51, I rise on a matter of privilege arising out of recent conduct by YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, which I believe is in contempt of parliament. I will be as brief as possible in this matter. The conduct I refer to is that, on Monday 7 June, YouTube censored and removed from their platform a video titled 'Craig Kelly speech, Australian House of Representatives, 1 June 2021', which was a speech in the debate on the Private Health Insurance Amendment (Income Thresholds) Bill 2021, a speech made here on the floor of this parliament. Further, this censoring of parliamentary proceedings came with a threat: 'Because it's the first time, this is just a warning. If this happens again, your channel will get a strike and you won't be able to do things like upload, post or live-stream for one week.' I will seek leave to table that document later.
Free speech in this parliament should be absolutely sacrosanct, and I hope all members would support that. The conduct of censoring parliamentary debate and removing a parliamentary speech from a platform, and the above-mentioned threat, is an improper interference with the free performance of my duties as a member of the Australian parliament and has impeded me in the discharge of those duties. Therefore I seek precedence to move a motion to refer this matter to the Standing Committee of Privileges and Members' Interests, seeking a declaration that contempt has occurred.
Mr Speaker, in submitting that a prima facie case exists and that an attempt has occurred, I respectfully refer you to House of Representatives Practice, chapter 20:
Generally speaking, any act or omission which obstructs or impedes either House of Parliament in the performance of its functions, or which obstructs or impedes any Member or officer of such House in the discharge of his duty, or which has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results may be treated as a contempt even though there is no precedent of the offence.
Mr Speaker, I submit to you that the key words here are 'obstructs or impedes'.
The member for Hughes needs to just state where he believes an alleged contempt is. Once he has fully done that, and tabled any supporting material, the process is: I'll consider it and report back to the House. He cannot, as he is now doing, seek to give his definition of what is in the Practice, what I need to look at and all the rest of it. I'll do all of that. He just really needs to state where he thinks the contempt is.