After question time the Manager of Opposition Business raised some questions with me concerning the immunity available to members under section 14 of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987.
The provisions in the act provide, in part, an immunity for a member from being required to attend a court within five days, before and after, a meeting of the House.
The purpose of the immunity is that members should reasonably be available to attend to their responsibilities to this House.
I make a few points in response to the Manager of Opposition’s questions:the act refers to a day on which the House ‘meets’. The reasonable interpretation of this is that, should the House meet tomorrow for an extended sitting, that would still be a ‘meeting’ of the House; the immunity applies to a member personally, not to representatives who may appear before a court on behalf of a member; a member does not need to exercise the immunity; finally, the exercise of the immunity is one for individual members to assert, although as Speaker I can issue a certificate relating to a day on which the House will meet.
I thank the Manager of Opposition Business for raising the matter with me.
It has given me the opportunity to give some clarity to the House.