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Report Details

Committee Name:

Procedure and Privileges Committee (Council)


Legislative Council
Report Type:Report


A matter of privilege raised by Hon Jim Chown MLC
Report No:52
No of Pages:108
Physical Location:Legislative Council Committee Office

Presentation Date:

Related Report(s):Report No 50 - A matter of privilege raised by Hon Jim Chown MLC - Terms of reference (16 Aug 2018)
Inquiry Name(s):A matter of privilege raised by Hon Jim Chown MLC

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On 14 August 2018 a matter of privilege raised by Hon Jim Chown pursuant to Standing Order 93 was referred to this Committee for inquiry and report.
The matter of privilege is that the Council may have been misled by information provided to it in answers to two parliamentary questions.
The information relates to alleged commitments that Hon Darren West provided to two Moora shire councillors, regarding his willingness to engage an independent assessor to assess the repairs required for Moora Residential College to remain open and operational, and his alleged undertaking to source $500 000 if that was the amount required to repair the college. Hon Jim Chown has tabled statutory declarations from two witnesses that support the giving of these alleged commitments. Hon Darren West has made no comment in the House regarding the alleged commitments.
On 12 April 2018, Hon Samantha Rowe, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and Training, provided a response to Hon Jim Chown’s question without notice 284. The response was that the minister did not agree that Hon Darren West gave such a commitment. On 9 May 2018, Hon Jim Chown asked the Minister for Education and Training the following in question without notice 329 —

(1) Has the minister asked Hon Darren West whether he provided such a commitment?
(2) If yes, what was the honourable member’s reply?
The minister replied
(1) Yes.
(2) That he did not say what they claimed he said.

The Committee has held hearings and gathered oral and documentary evidence from all relevant parties.
The Committee undertook detailed inquiries into the conversation between the Hon Darren West and the two Moora councillors at a pre-dinner drinks function at the Western Australian Local Government Association Wheatbelt Conference on Thursday, 5 April 2018. The Committee was, however, unable to resolve a clear conflict of evidence as to what various witnesses claim was or was not said.
The unresolved conflict of evidence does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that any of the witnesses were untruthful. Many factors can affect a witness’ recollection of events, even when the witness is examined immediately after those events.

Findings and recommendations
The Committee finds that there is conflicting evidence regarding what was said between the Hon Darren West and Moora councillors, Cr Tracy Humphry and CrTracy Lefroy at the pre-dinner drinks function for the 2018 WALGA Wheatbelt Conference on the evening of 5 April 2018.

The Committee finds that the alleged contempt of the Legislative Council by Hon Darren West arising from the information that he gave to the Minister for Education and Training for the purpose of answering Question without Notice 329 is unproven.

The Committee finds that no other person committed a contempt of the Legislative Council in relation to this matter of privilege.

The Committee recommends that the Legislative Council take no further action in relation to this matter of privilege.