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Attorney General has to be the exemplar of upholding the law and the will of Parliament

It is irresponsible for the Attorney General Elise Archer to describe on her social media page the parliamentary debate on sending the Energy Minister to Privileges Committee for refusing to comply with an order of the Parliament as “misusing the Parliament”.

The rules of Parliament are very clear. They are set out in the Standing Orders of Parliament along with centuries of Westminster parliamentary procedure, custom and practice.

The Parliament is more than just the government. The Parliament is not there simply to comply with the government’s wishes.

The fact is, the Parliament has the power to pass motions that require Ministers of the Crown to provide information to the Parliament.

When a motion of the Parliament is passed, it must be complied with. If it is ignored, there are serious consequences.

The 1998 High Court Case of Egan v Willis confirmed that parliaments do have the power to demand documents and to suspend a minister when they fail to produce them.

Of all people, the Attorney General would understand this best.

As an experienced lawyer and former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Ms Archer knows the opposition and cross bench were doing the right thing in holding the Minister to account over his actions.

Ms Archer is a member of the powerful Privileges Committee that will sit in judgement of Mr Barnett and decide on any penalties.

Her comments that the Parliament voting to send Mr Barnett to the Privileges Committee is a “stunt” and “a misuse of Parliament” potentially prejudices her impartiality on these matters, her fitness to sit on the Privileges Committee and to act impartially as Attorney General if he is found to have been in contempt of Parliament.

September 08 2023

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