Committee of Privileges Report on Referral Regarding a Statement by the Member for Blain
Tabled Paper 468
Tabled Papers for 14th Assembly 2020 -; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
5 This statement is pertinent due to the publicly reported alleged mention by a person with whom the Member had a relationship of drug abuse and the Members alleged response to that statement. The unexpressed implication of the allegation is that the Member did in fact condone illegal drug use by the person and this statement was seen to mislead the Assembly regarding that alleged fact. For this to comprise deliberately misleading the Assembly, it would first be necessary to prove that the general statement I do not condone illegal activity amounted to a specific denial that he had condoned illegal activity in this specific instance. The Committee does not consider that this meaning must necessarily be conveyed, and as a consequence could not amount to the offence of misleading the Assembly. Allegation B: the Member misled the Assembly by stating only that we exchanged general conversation, banter, jokes and some intimate conversation, but failing to disclose a physical relationship. This is an allegation of misleading by failure to disclose. For the offence of deliberately misleading to be made out it would need to be proved that, despite the statement being entirely voluntary and carrying no obligation of full disclosure, the omission of the alleged physical relationship was misleading. Regarding the nature of the relationship, the statement included the words I accept there were aspects of our friendship in the past that were not appropriate because they were too intimate. It was not illegal. It was consensual and respectful, but not appropriate. While it is possible that it was only non-physical aspects of the relationship that were not appropriate because they were too intimate, despite being consensual and respectful, such words are suggestive of a physical relationship. Given that parts of the statement were suggestive of a physical relationship, the Committee does not consider that the omission of reference to a physical relationship in another part of the statement could be misleading in this regard. Allegation C: the Member misled the Assembly by saying I have the Chief Ministers support in making this statement. In the statement the Member said he had been speaking to the Chief Minister and that he had the Chief Ministers support in making this statement. Subsequently, the Chief Minister noted that although he had discussed making the statement with the Member before it was given there were matters of which he was not aware at that time. In these circumstances, for the offence of deliberately misleading the Assembly to be made out it would need to be proved that the words I have the Chief Ministers support in making this statement had a specific meaning that was misleading. In the facts as alleged, it appears that the Member had the Chief Ministers support for the act of making a statement regarding the allegations publicly circulating about an unnamed Member but the Chief Minister had not been fully informed about the full content of the statement or the circumstances surrounding it when he gave that support. Given that the evidence of the allegation shows some kind of support from the Chief Minister in making a statement about the matter, it is difficult to see how the level of any deception of the Assembly involved would reach the threshold required for the offence of misleading the Assembly.
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