This chapter sets out the procedures relating to witnesses before the Assembly and its committees.
Summoning of witnesses
255. Witnesses, not being Members, may be ordered to attend before the Assembly by summons under the hand of the Clerk of the Assembly, or before a committee of the Assembly under the hand of the secretary to the committee.
256. If a witness fails or refuses to attend or give evidence, the Assembly, on being so advised, shall deal with the matter. (Amended 6 March 2008)
Summoning of Members
257. When the attendance of a Member is ordered by the Assembly for examination by the Assembly, that Member shall be summoned by the Speaker to attend in the Member’s place.
Member requested to attend committee as witness
258. If a committee desires the attendance of a Member as a witness, the Chair of the committee shall, in writing, request that Member to attend; should the Member refuse to come, or to give evidence or information as a witness to the committee, the committee shall advise the Assembly, and not again request the Member to attend the committee. (Amended 6 March 2008)
Committee not to entertain allegations against Members
259. If any information comes before any committee that makes allegations against the conduct of any Member of the Assembly, the committee ought only direct that the Assembly be acquainted with the matter of the information, without proceeding further. (Amended 6 March 2008)
260. (Standing Order omitted 6 March 2008)
Witnesses entitled to protection
261. All witnesses examined before the Assembly, or any of its committees, are entitled to the protection of the Assembly in respect of anything that may be said by them in their evidence.
Witnesses before Assembly examined by Speaker
262. When a witness appears before the Assembly, that witness shall be examined by the Speaker, and any questions addressed by the Members are taken to be put through the Speaker.
Witness withdraws if question objected to
263. If any question is objected to, or other matter arises, the witness shall withdraw while the same is under discussion.
Officers not to give evidence without leave
264. An officer of the Assembly, or person employed by the Assembly, may not give evidence elsewhere in respect of any proceedings or examination of any witness without the special leave of the Assembly.
Protection of witnesses – Adverse mention procedures
264A. In their dealings with witnesses, all committees of the Assembly shall observe the following procedures:
(a) A witness shall be invited to attend a committee meeting to give evidence. A witness shall be summoned to appear (whether or not the witness was previously invited to appear) only where the committee has made a decision that the circumstances warrant the issue of a summons.
(b) Where a committee desires that a witness produce documents relevant to the committee’s inquiry, the witness shall be invited to do so, and an order that documents be produced shall be made (whether or not an invitation to produce documents has previously been made) only where the committee has made a decision that the circumstances warrant such an order.
(c) A witness shall be given reasonable notice of a meeting at which the witness is to appear, and shall be supplied with a copy of the committee’s terms of reference, a statement of the matters expected to be dealt with during the witness’s appearance, and a copy of these procedures. Where appropriate a witness shall be supplied with a transcript of relevant evidence already taken.
(d) A witness shall be given opportunity to make a submission in writing before appearing to give oral evidence.
(e) Where appropriate, reasonable opportunity shall be given for a witness to raise any matters of concern to the witness relating to the witness’s submission or the evidence the witness is to give before the witness appears at a meeting.
(f) A witness shall be given reasonable access to any documents that the witness has produced to a committee.
(g) A witness shall be offered, before giving evidence, the opportunity to make application, before or during the hearing of the witness’s evidence, for any or all of the witness’s evidence to be heard in private session, and shall be invited to give reasons for any such application. If the application is not granted, the witness shall be notified of reasons for that decision.
(h) Before giving any evidence in private session a witness shall be informed whether it is the intention of the committee to publish or present to the Assembly all or part of that evidence, that it is within the power of the committee to do so, and that the Assembly has the authority to order the production and publication of undisclosed evidence.
(i) A chair of a committee shall take care to ensure that all questions put to a witness are relevant to the committee’s inquiry and that the information sought by those questions is necessary for the purpose of that inquiry. Where a Member of a committee requests discussion of a ruling of the Chair on this matter, the committee shall deliberate in private session and determine whether any question which is the subject of the ruling is to be permitted.
(j) Where a witness objects to answering any question put to the witness on any ground, including the ground that the question is not relevant or that the answer may incriminate the witness, the witness shall be invited to state the ground upon which objection to answering the question is taken. Unless the committee determines immediately that the question should not be pressed, the committee shall then consider in private session whether it will insist upon an answer to the question, having regard to the relevance of the question to the committee’s inquiry and the importance to the inquiry of the information sought by the question. If the committee determines that it requires an answer to the question, the witness shall be informed of that determination and the reasons for the determination, and shall be required to answer the question only in private session unless the committee determines that it is essential to the committee’s inquiry that the question be answered in public session. Where a witness declines to answer a question to which a committee has required an answer, the committee shall report the facts to the Assembly.
(k) Where a committee has reason to believe that evidence about to be given may reflect adversely on a person, the committee shall give consideration to hearing that evidence in private session.
(l) Where a witness gives evidence reflecting adversely on a person and the committee is not satisfied that that evidence is relevant to the committee’s inquiry, the committee shall give consideration to expunging that evidence from the transcript of evidence, and to forbidding the publication of that evidence.
(m) Where evidence is given which reflects adversely on a person and action of the kind referred to in 264A(a) is not taken in respect of the evidence, the committee shall provide reasonable opportunity for that person to have access to that evidence and to respond to that evidence by written submission and appearance before the committee.
(n) A witness accompanied by counsel shall be given reasonable opportunity to consult counsel during a meeting at which the witness appears.
(o) An officer of a department of the Territory or the Commonwealth or a state shall not be asked to give opinions on matters of policy, and shall be given reasonable opportunity to refer questions asked of the officer to superior officers or to a Minister.
(p) Reasonable opportunity shall be afforded to a witness to make corrections of errors of transcription in the transcript of their evidence and to put before a committee additional material supplementary to their evidence.
(q) Where a committee has any reason to believe that any person has been improperly influenced in respect of evidence which may be given before the committee, or has been subjected to or threatened with any penalty or injury in respect of any evidence given, the committee shall take all reasonable steps to ascertain the facts of the matter. Where the committee considers that the facts disclose that a person may have been improperly influenced or subjected to or threatened with penalty or injury in respect of evidence which may be or has been given before the committee, the committee shall report the facts and its conclusions to the Assembly. (Inserted 6 March 2008)