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Committee of Privileges Report on Referral Regarding a Statement by the Member for Blain



Committee of Privileges Report on Referral Regarding a Statement by the Member for Blain

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Tabled Paper 468


Tabled Papers for 14th Assembly 2020 -; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT




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4 a matter of no consequence, or such little consequence that it is too trivial to warrant the Houses attention. Such a misunderstanding should be cleared up on a point of order or through the asking of further supplementary questions, particularly when the matter is a contestable one. For a misleading of the House to be deliberate, there must be an indication of an intention to mislead. Remarks made off the cuff in debate can rarely fall into this category, nor can matters of which the member can be aware only in an official capacity. But an inference of an intention to mislead can be drawn where the member can be assumed to have personal knowledge of the stated facts and made the statement in a formal manner or situation, such as by way of personal explanation. Most instances of deliberate misleading of the House will consist in statements made. However, it is conceivable that members might also mislead the House by their actions. For example, a member might deliberately misuse a voting proxy, or deliver to the Clerk a different document from that which the member obtained leave to table, or might misrepresent an authority to act on behalf of an absent member.4 Drawing from this discussion, a three element test has been applied: 1. The statement must, in fact, have been misleading; 2. It must be established that the member making the statement knew at the time the statement was made that it was inaccurate; and 3. In making the statement the member must have intended to mislead the House.5 The Committee adopted these three elements as being required to establish the offence of misleading the Assembly. Step 2. Identify the extent to which the allegation comprises such an offence and the evidence for the allegation The Committee has been asked to inquire and report on whether the Member for Blain was in contempt of the Assembly for misleading it in his statement on Wednesday, 17 February 2021 by saying: A. I do not condone illegal activity, B. stating only that we exchanged general conversation, banter, jokes and some intimate conversation but failing to disclose a physical relationship, or C. I have the Chief Ministers support in making this statement. A copy of the complete statement is at Appendix C. For each of these statements, the three elements to be proved are: 1. Was the statement, in fact, misleading, 2. Did the Member know at the time that the statement was inaccurate, and 3. Did the Member intend to mislead the House? Allegation A: the Member misled the Assembly by saying I do not condone illegal activity. According to the Macquarie Dictionary, condone means 1. To pardon or overlook (an offence). 4 McGee, pp 775-6 5 McGee, quoted in Report into whether the former Member for Dobell, p 43

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