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Contempt of Parliament by #casa CEO McCormick??

Contempt of Parliament by #casa CEO McCormick??

In 2013, Senator Xenophon raised issues of Parliamentary privilege over evidence give to the Australian Senate by #casa.

The matter is serious and although the Senate privileges committee found against the Xenophon referral, this goes to the heart of all that is wrong at #casa.

Participants in aviation [as reported to the #ASRR investigation by David Forsyth] cannot be forgotten.

That individuals would be persecuted is revealed here: HERE

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 Senate Hansard for Wednesday 12th August 2015:

Quote:Senator JACINTA COLLINS (Victoria) (16:54):

I move:

That the Senate adopt the recommendation at paragraph 1.47 of the report that no contempt be found in respect of the matter referred to.

In February of 2013, an employee of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, or CASA, gave in camera evidence to the Rural and Regional Affairs References Committee inquiry into aviation safety. CASA later initiated code of conduct proceedings against the employee, leading to a recommendation that his employment be terminated. Those proceedings related to the employee’s use of IT systems, but the references committee was concerned that they were linked to his appearance as a witness. The question for the privileges committee was whether a contempt may have been committed.

Improper interference with a witness ranks amongst the most serious of all possible contempts, so any suggestion that a penalty has been imposed on a witness is treated very seriously. In this case, it was not disputed that action was taken against the employee. What was at issue was whether that action was taken as a result of his giving evidence.

The privileges committee concluded that, on the evidence before it, the requisite causal connection could not be demonstrated. Without that connection, the committee cannot recommend a contempt be found. In reaching this conclusion, it was significant that CASA did not know that the employee had given evidence and did not know what evidence he gave.

Although the code of conduct proceedings were indirectly prompted by subsequent use of the in camera evidence, the committee considered that CASA’s actions were reasonable in the circumstances, particularly given its limited knowledge of the relevant matters.

I want to draw to the attention of senators comments in the last part of the report about the protection of witnesses. The committee notes the increasingly prevalent but incorrect view that the protection of committees afford their witnesses is akin to whistleblower protection. This view is founded on a misunderstanding of the Senate’s contempt powers, which are significant but apply only in respect of conduct tending to improperly interfere with the Senate, its committees or senators.

The immunity of parliamentary proceedings before courts and tribunals under the Parliamentary Privileges Act more closely approximates whistleblower protection, but the interpretation and application of that immunity is a matter for the courts, not for the Senate.

It is important that committees and individual senators give witnesses accurate and measured information about their protections so that they are aware of the scope, source and limitation of that protection. It is equally important that committees are as forthright as possible when dealing with people they apprehend will take adverse actions against witnesses in dealing with their concerns.

The processes which require committees to investigate adverse actions against witnesses provide the opportunity to caution against conduct which might amount to a contempt but can only be effective when parties have sufficient information to guide their actions.

The committee emphasises the preventative and remedial nature of these processes.

Experience has shown that effective intervention by committees while their proceedings are in train generally will often provide a more satisfactory outcome than recourse to the Senate’s formal contempt powers.

If no other senator wishes to speak at this time, I seek leave to continue my remarks to preserve the matter for any further debate.

Leave granted; Debate adjourned.

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Well on page 22 of the report we finally get an answer:
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