1 There are a number of criminal offences related to the Western Australian State Parliament, Members and officers of the Parliament, and other persons involved in the proceedings of the Parliament. These offences are contained in the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1891 and the Criminal Code. This includes the general offence of corruption by a public officer (s 83, Criminal Code) in those circumstances where the public officer is a Member or officer of the Parliament. The Houses of Parliament and the Western Australia Police are the only bodies that are able to investigate these offences.
2 The Corruption, Crime and Misconduct Amendment Bill 2017 seeks to restore the power and jurisdiction of the Corruption and Crime Commission of Western Australia (CCC) to investigate the conduct of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia for those offences of the Criminal Code that correspond with the contempts of Parliament expressly listed in section 8 of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1891. The CCC’s power and jurisdiction in this regard was lost as a result of changes made in December 2014 to the Corruption Crime and Misconduct Act 2003.
3 Although the proposed amendment is relatively simple, it is not straightforward when the possible impact on parliamentary privilege is considered.
4 The Committee obtained a legal opinion from eminent barrister, Mr Bret Walker SC, as to the possible impact of the proposed amendment on parliamentary privilege and future CCC investigations that may involve proceedings in Parliament.
5 The Committee is satisfied that the proposed amendment, if passed, would not adversely impact upon parliamentary privilege.
6 Nevertheless, based on past experience the following issues will not be addressed by the proposed amendment:
7 A memorandum of understanding between the CCC and the Parliament may go some way to addressing the issue of early notification by the CCC of investigations that may involve a claim of parliamentary privilege.