Harry Evans Lecture: Justified Immunity or Unfinished Business? The Appropriateness of Parliamentary and Executive Immunities in the 21st Century

Friday, 1 December 2017
12.15pm – 1.15pm
Theatre, Parliament House, Canberra

In this lecture Bret Walker will address two related issues that Harry Evans himself consistently regarded as vital to the healthy operation of the Houses, and especially the Senate.

The first involves the informing principles and correct focus of that aspect of parliamentary privilege articulated in Article 9 of the Bill of Rights. Is there unfinished business in relation to the prohibition on the impeaching or questioning in any court or place out of Parliament of the freedom of speech or debates or proceedings in Parliament? What ought now be foreseen as occasions that might be dangerous for the continued vigour of senatorial scrutiny of the Executive, as a result of judicial decision?

The second involves the proper limits of a chamber’s powers to compel the provision of information including the production of documents. In particular, is the virtual immunity from production of so-called Cabinet documents well-founded, or expedient?

Bret Walker has been a barrister practising at the NSW Bar since 1979 and was appointed Senior Counsel in 1993 and Queen’s Counsel in 1994. He is a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law. He has at various times been President of the Law Council of Australia, President of the NSW Bar Association, a member of a number of advisory committees to the Australian Law Reform Commission, a Commissioner of Inquiry to a number of NSW Commissions of Inquiry and editor of the New South Wales Law Reports. He was the inaugural Independent National Security Legislation Monitor in 2011-2014. He was leading counsel for the NSW Legislative Council in Egan v Willis, an important authority on partliamentary privilege.

Bret’s practice centres on general appellate advocacy, equity and commercial, administrative and commercial law.

Admission free – bookings not required
Enquiries: Senate Procedure Office, telephone 02 6277 3074 or email research.sen@aph.gov.au


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