Tuesday, April 5, 2005

South Aust politicians and police paedophiles in parliament house

SA Govt attempts to truncate parliamentary privilege

The South Australian Government will try to muster support today for its unprecedented legislation to remove parliamentary privilege covering recent paedophile allegations against public officials.

The Government rushed the bill into Parliament after yesterday's resignation of speaker Peter Lewis, whose volunteer staffers have alleged a serving MP, a former MP, and two police officers are paedophiles.

Opposition Leader Rob Kerin says the Government has over-reacted and should immediately withdraw the bill.

He says the Government should take Mr Lewis's word that he will not use parliamentary privilege to name the MP accused of paedophilia?

AND the the two police offenders?

Mr Kerin says the legislation is less about protecting children and more about intimidating the media and critics of the Government.

He says there is no reason to abandon centuries of parliamentary tradition.

"I would hope the Government would pull the bill," he said. "I think the bill was ill-conceived, it's not necessary.

"I don't think there's any real beneficiaries from this, I think it's a knee-jerk reaction from a Government that just didn't handle the pressure of the last few days."

Attorney-General Michael Atkinson will meet the Australian Democrats' state leader, Sandra Kanck, in an bid to win her support in the Upper House.

Mr Atkinson says the Democrats' support is vital.

"It's crucial that the Labor Government obtains the support of the Democrats to get our law through, to put the people who make these allegations in the same position as every other member of the public," he said.

But Ms Kanck says she is still to be convinced that the bill is in the public interest.

Mr Lewis says the bill is unnecessary.

He says he has twice promised not to use parliamentary privilege to name an MP accused of paedophilia and says the Government should take his word.

The independent MP, who effectively handed Labor government, has told said that the proposed legislation has nothing to do with protecting the innocent, and is more a personal attack against him.

"It explicitly sets out to vilify me and anyone who's worked with me - that's an appalling piece of legislation," he said.

New parliamentary Speaker Bob Such says he is unsure whether to vote in favour of the bill.

Dr Such took over from Mr Lewis yesterday and says he needs to weigh up all considerations before deciding.

The independent says there are strong arguments both for and against the bill.

"It is an unusual situation and I can understand the Government wants to protect the names of people who could well be and I'm sure are totally innocent," he said.

"Now once those people are named those people are history."

Former Labor member, now Greens MP Kris Hanna, says the bill is a disgrace.

Mr Hanna is scathing of the legislation proposed by his former colleagues.

"This is part of a pattern developing now with this Government where they will shred principles in order to achieve a short-term practical outcome, and here they are throwing away centuries of free speech accorded to MPs," he said.

By Just Us 5 April 05


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