Privilege Bill Makes Progress

by Desk Editor on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 — 12:24 PM

A bill partially codifying parliamentary privilege has made progress in Parliament.

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson said the Parliamentary Privilege Bill showed NZ had reached the point where parliamentary privilege needed to be codified to ensure it was not reduced by recent court rulings.

Privilege was not about protecting MPs it was about ensuring Parliament and democracy could operate without fear of litigation or coercion.

With parliamentary privilege came obligations, Finlayson said.

David Parker endorsed Finlayson’s comments and said while the Bill would not be noticed by many it was one of the most important bills to be passed in this Parliament.

The bill was sparked by a court case where advice from officials used by a minister to answer questions in Parliament was not covered by parliamentary privilege and therefore could be considered defamatory. A judge ruled material prepared for proceedings in Parliament was not a proceeding of Parliament so therefore admissible in court.

Though an earlier case in which an MP was successfully sued for saying they stood by their comments in Parliament also caused some concerns which were addressed in the bill as well.

The bill completed its second reading on a voice vote.

The House rose after completing the second reading of the Kaikoura (Te Tai-o-Marokura) Marine Management Bill on a voice vote.

Earlier MP accepted and adopted the recommendations of two reports from the Privileges Committee on the Question of privilege concerning the agreements for policing, execution of search warrants, and collection and retention of information by the NZSIS and the Question of privilege regarding use of intrusive powers within the parliamentary precinct.
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