First woman to chair a Senate committee
Clerk of the Senate JR Odgers argues for a greater role for Senate committees
Matters of interest to the Privileges Committee may include:
- interference with the proceedings of the Senate
- disobedience or obstruction of Senate orders
- attempts to improperly influence senators, or witnesses to committee inquiries, such as by intimidation, threat, injury or bribery
- false reporting of proceedings
- unauthorised disclosure of evidence
- senators exerting improper influence or seeking benefits for themselves or others, and
- witnesses failing to attend hearings or produce documents, refusing to answer questions or giving false or misleading evidence.
While the Senate has the power to fine or imprison people who interfere with its work, in practice the role of the Committee of Privileges has largely been to reflect on the powers and protections of parliament, identify weaknesses, develop and refine procedures and expose and at times reprimand offenders.
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Anne Lynch, committee secretary, Interview with Sandra Bunn, 2005, Museum of Australian Democracy, OHI 39
Privileges Committee, 4 March 2004. DPS Auspic.