12 Jun 2013

New privilege laws proposed

9:57 am on 12 June 2013

New laws are proposed to protect public service officials from being sued when they give information to ministers.

Parliament's Privileges Committee has been considering the issue of absolute privilege in light of a Supreme Court ruling that public servants do not have the same protection as ministers when helping them answer Parliamentary questions.

In a report on the decision, the Privileges Committee found officials may be reluctant to provide free and frank advice to ministers if that advice is subject to legal proceedings.

It said that could have a chilling effect on the House's ability to receive information.

The committee recommends new laws be introduced to clarify the absolute privilege that protects MPs and their officials from being sued for defamation over what is said in Parliament.