This resolution provides guidance to Ministers and public officials as to the process for raising public interest immunity claims during committee proceedings.
Resolution agreed by the Assembly
30 June 2011
In order to provide Ministers and public officials with guidance as to the proper process for raising public interest immunity claims in the course of a proceeding of a committee, this Assembly adopts the following procedure:
(a) an Assembly committee requests information from a directorate, agency or Territory-owned corporation; and
(b) an officer of the directorate, agency or Territory-owned corporation to whom the request is directed believes that it may not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, the officer will be given reasonable opportunity to refer the request to a superior officer or to a Minister, in accordance with standing order 264A (o).
(2) If a Minister, on a reference by an officer under paragraph (1), concludes that it would not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, the Minister shall provide to the committee a statement of the ground for that conclusion, specifying the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document.
(3) A Minister, in a statement under paragraph (2), shall indicate whether the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document to the committee could result only from the publication of the information or document by the committee, or could result, equally or in part, from the disclosure of the information or document to the committee as confidential evidence.
(4) If, after considering a statement by a Minister provided under paragraph (2), the committee concludes that the statement does not sufficiently justify the withholding of the information or document from the committee, the committee shall report the matter to the Assembly.
(5) A decision by a committee not to report a matter to the Assembly under paragraph (4) does not prevent a Member from raising the matter in the Assembly in accordance with other procedures of the Assembly.
(6) A statement that information or a document is not published, or is confidential, or consists of advice to, or internal deliberations of, government, in the absence of specification of the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document, is not a statement that meets the requirements of paragraphs (2) or (3).
(7) If a Minister concludes that a statement under paragraph (2) should more appropriately be made by the head of an agency or Territory-owned corporation, by reason of the independence of that agency or Territory-owned corporation from ministerial direction or control, the Minister shall inform the committee of that conclusion and the reason for that conclusion, and shall refer the matter to the head of the agency, who shall then be required to provide a statement in accordance with paragraphs (2) and (3).
(8) This resolution has effect from the date of its passage in the Assembly and continues in force unless and until amended or repealed by this or a subsequent Assembly.