Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Statement by the Speaker
On Monday this week, the Speaker, the President of the Senate, the Attorney-General and the Minister for Home Affairs signed a new memorandum of understanding regarding AFP investigations where parliamentary privilege may be involved. The Australian Federal Police have also issued a new national guideline which updates the procedure that the AFP will follow for the collection and quarantining of material that could be subject to parliamentary privilege.
The MOU and guideline are designed to ensure that law enforcement investigations are conducted without improperly interfering with the functioning of parliament, its committees and its members. They also ensure that parliamentarians and their staff are given an opportunity to raise claims of parliamentary privilege in relation to material that is obtained through the execution of a warrant.
The new MOU and guideline replace a 2005 agreement on these issues, and include some significant changes, including strengthening oversight of investigations which may intersect with parliamentary privilege and clarifying the application of the guideline to electronic information, particularly where this is held by third parties. Further work will be required to agree on procedures in relation to the exercise of AFP's covert investigative powers, and this work will be conducted in the next parliament.
I acknowledge the work of former Speaker Smith and all others involved in bringing these negotiations to fruition. I present a copy of the MOU and the national guideline.