Thursday, 10 December 2020
Privileges Committee; Report
On behalf of the Chair of the Senate Standing Committee of Privileges, I present the 180th report, entitled Person referred to in the Senate: Mr Ben Davies. I move:
That the report be adopted.
This report forms part of a series of reports recommending that a right of reply be afforded to persons who claim to have been adversely affected by being referred to in the Senate either by name or in such a way as to be readily identified. On 13 November 2020, the President received a submission from Mr Ben Davies related to a question asked by Senator McAllister in the Senate on 12 November 2020. The President referred the submission to the committee under privilege resolution 5. The committee considered the submission at its meeting today and recommends that the proposed response be incorporated into Hansard. The committee reminds the Senate that in matters of this nature it does not judge the truth or otherwise of statements made by honourable senators or the persons referred to. Rather, it ensures that these persons' submissions, and ultimately the response it recommends, accord with the criteria set out in privilege resolution 5. I commend the motion to the Senate.
Ordered that the report be adopted.
Response as recommended by the committee incorporated accordingly—
Mr Ben Davies
Pursuant to Resolution 5(7 ) ( b) of the Senate of 25 February 1988
Reply to comments by Senator McAllister (12 November 2020)
1. On 12 November 2020, I was mentioned adversely in the Senate by Senator McAllister in a manner which would identify me.
2. The comments by Senator McAllister referred to me in my capacity as a former Chief of Staff to Senator Cash.
3. During Questions Without Notice on 12 November 2020, Senator McAllister made the following statement in reference to me:
" Is this the same Chief of Staff that was under investigation by the AFP for illegally leaking to the media and confirmed to be the source of the illegal leak… "
4. The assertion by Senator McAllister that I was "under investigation by the AFP" is incorrect. The assertion imputes that I was suspected of engaging in criminal conduct. Any suggestion that I was "under investigation" or had engaged in such conduct is completely false, defamatory and without foundation. Other than assertions such as those by Senator McAllister in the Senate under the cover of privilege, I am not aware of any suggestion to this effect by any other person.
5. It is an extremely serious matter to be under investigation for alleged criminal conduct. It is equally serious to falsely impute that a person has been.
6. The further assertion by Senator McAllister that I was "the source of the illegal leak" is also false. I have not engaged in any "leak" of information, whether legal or otherwise, to any member of the media. The imputation that I have is completely false, defamatory and without foundation. Other than assertions such as those by Senator McAllister in the Senate, under cover of privilege, I am not aware of any suggestion to this effect by any other person.
7. Given that the comments made by Senator McAllister on 12 November 2020 directly led to injury to my reputation, and were false, I seek this opportunity to provide the ascertainable facts and correct the Senate record.
13 November 2020
That the Senate take note of the report.
This is a very serious matter where somebody was maligned in this place—I'm willing to believe that it may well have been accidentally—by a Labor senator. This is a process that does allow people to have their reputation restored. Being the deputy chair of the Privileges Committee, I just wanted to agree with the report and thank the committee for the bipartisan—tripartisan, in fact—work that it does for the betterment of this place and its processes.
Question agreed to.