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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 1120 asked in the Legislative Council on 26 September 2019 by Hon Michael Mischin

Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on

STANDING COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURE AND PRIVILEGES — FIFTY-SIXTH REPORT —LEGAL ADVICE

1120. Hon MICHAEL MISCHIN to the Leader of the House representing the Attorney General:

I refer to the correspondence from the President and Clerk of the Legislative Council provided by the Attorney General and his chief of staff to members of the media.

(1) Will the Attorney General table copies of the correspondence he provided to members of the media; and, if they were provided under cover of a letter or email, a copy of the letter or email?

(2) Can the Attorney General advise whether he did the President or the Clerk the courtesy of informing them that he was going to provide those documents to the media; and, if not, why not?

(3) Can the Attorney General identify those documents that were provided before the committee tabled its report containing them, and identify the date and means and to whom they were provided?

(4) Can the Attorney General articulate precisely the public interest that providing these documents was to serve?

(5) Can the Attorney General table the invitation that his chief of staff provided to former media colleagues, and identify those former colleagues?

(6) Can the Attorney General explain the reason why his chief of staff showed that document to former colleagues and whether it was with his knowledge and consent?

Hon SUE ELLERY replied:

I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.

(1)–(6) The Attorney General showed a reporter from The West Australian a letter from the Clerk of the house dated 28 August 2019, not marked confidential, regarding the successful legal proceedings taken by Mr Foster against the President of the house. It was important to inform the public how the Legislative Council had been badly advised to vote for a motion that was beyond its legal powers. The letter showed that the Clerk was relying on an obscure and irrelevant order in the House of Commons from 1641, prior to the execution of the monarch Charles I. The Attorney General relayed to the reporter that he was astounded by the poor quality of advice the Council was receiving, which he saw as a matter of public importance. Neither his chief of staff nor any other staff member was present. The letter was tabled at page 36 of the fifty-sixth report of the committee.