The SPEAKER (10:01): In May 1986 the parliament established, by legislation, a parliamentary commission of inquiry to advise the parliament whether any conduct of the Hon. Lionel Keith Murphy was such as to amount, in its opinion, to prove misbehaviour within the meaning of section 72 of the Constitution.
In August 1986, following a special report to the Presiding Officers relating to the terminal illness of the judge, the inquiry was discontinued and the act establishing the commission repealed. The Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (Repeal) Act 1986 gave to the Presiding Officers exclusive possession of the documents of the commission for 30 years from its commencement.
The repeal act commenced on 25 September 1986 and the period of exclusive possession expired from 26 September 2016. The Presiding Officers may now grant access to documents of the commission by written authority.
With the expiration of the period of exclusive possession, the President of the Senate and I have determined that the clerks of the Senate and the House of Representatives and other nominees approved by us can access and examine the records of the commission for the purposes of providing advice to assist in our responses to requests for access. The examination of the records by parliamentary officers commenced on 29 September 2016. We are awaiting advice on the contents of the records before determining any arrangements for wider access to them. It should be understood that this process may take some time as the records are extensive. I thank the House.