Image for Forestry Tasmania, Andrew Wilkie MP and the tabled document ...

A day after the Liberal Government whacked another $10 million (of your money) into the mendicant coffers of Forestry Tasmania ( HERE and HERE; ABC HERE ) …

Tasmanian Times has taken a legal opinion from an SC with experience and knowledge in the matter of Parliamentary Privilege and tabled documents.

An excerpt ...

“… an MP who asserts Outside Parliament that what he said Inside Parliament was true, might find that only the making-of-statements Inside Parliament is protected. The repetition of those statements Outside Parliament is not.

So Andrew Wilkie MP’s tender or tabling of the document in Parliament cannot be sued on. His doing so has made it a public document in the sense - and only in the sense - that re-publication by the Officers of the House to members of the public in accordance with Standing Orders is also privileged.

But Tasmanian Time’s re-publication is not inside Parliament and so is not a privileged occasion and it could well be it would not be protected.

The law isn’t as clear in this area as it can be in others. The big publishers with deep pockets tend to publish and be damned, and they aren’t sued because they can afford to argue these esoteric points forever.

But the lack of clarity is really around whether there would be afforded to you a complete defence based on Parliamentary Privilege.

A different question is whether anyone well advised would actually sue. There is now publication in the Australian Parliament. The document is now a public document.

What additional damage would republication by Tasmanian Times bring?

Notionally anyone who is inclined to can read this document perfectly lawfully and without fear of being sued or adding to damages.

They just have to do so via Parliament rather than via the Tasmanian Times.

And that is exactly what we suggest ...


... to download the PDF document ( it is a bulky PDF and takes some time to download ... )

• Then Comment below if you wish. Because of the immensely litigious nature of this subject, the Editor recommends a simple I’ve read it ... comment ...

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• Dr John R Wilson, in Comments: I’ve read it. Twice. Tomorrow, I shall probably read it again. That said, I would like to congratulate John Hawkins for having had the courage to put this document together. I would also like to thank Andrew Wilkie MHR for tabling it in the Federal Parliament. And TT for sharing it with us online ...

• John Day, in Comments: I will be send this article to everybody I know and to those I believe could and should make a contribution to gaining answers and redress. If all TT readers contacted their 19 federal and state elected representatives and every newspaper and media outlet and demanded a response that might well bring this outrageous matter out into the open. Any reader can write an email providing the link to the article and strongly requesting a response. Less than an hour of your time.

• Isla MacGregor, in Comments: Earlier this week I received a telephone call from an official with the Tasmanian Integrity Commission in reply to a call I made last week to Tasmania’s so called anti-corruption watchdog. I suggested to this official, that with the tabling in federal parliament of your documents John, the TIC could now conduct an Own Motion Investigation into these matters concerning FT. I stated to this official that only the TIC, under their Act,  were able to conduct a truly independent investigation into these matters.

Nick McKim: Harris has no Plan for Forestry Tasmania

• Steve, in Comments: Well done John. If the antiques market ever slows down, you should consider running courses on “Bullies; and how to deal with the them”!