Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 No 152
Current version for 24 November 2014 to date (accessed 28 November 2014 at 23:06)
Part 4Section 58

58   Evidence

(1)  Subject to this section, the Committee shall take all evidence in public.
(2)  Where, in the opinion of the Committee, any evidence proposed to be given before, or the whole or a part of a document produced or proposed to be produced in evidence to, the Committee relates to a secret or confidential matter, the Committee may, and at the request of the witness giving the evidence or producing the document shall:
(a)  take the evidence in private, or
(b)  direct that the document, or the part of the document, be treated as confidential.
(2A)  If any evidence proposed to be given before, or the whole or a part of a document produced or proposed to be produced in evidence to, the Committee relates to the proposed appointment of a person as Auditor-General, the Committee must (despite any other provision of this section):
(a)  take the evidence in private, or
(b)  direct that the document, or the part of the document, be treated as confidential.
(2B)  Despite any other provision of this section except subsection (7), the Committee must not, and a person (including a member of the Committee) must not, disclose any evidence or the contents of a document or that part of a document to which subsection (2A) applies.

Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units or imprisonment for 3 months, or both.

(2C)  Despite any other provision of this section except subsection (7), the Committee (including a member of the Committee) must not, and any person assisting the Committee or present during the deliberations of the Committee must not, except in accordance with section 57A (3), disclose whether or not the Committee or any member of the Committee has vetoed, or proposes to veto, the proposed appointment of a person as Auditor-General.

Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units or imprisonment for 3 months, or both.

(3)  Where a direction under subsection (2) is applicable in respect of a document, or a part of a document, produced in evidence to the Committee, the contents of the document or part shall, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to be evidence given by the person producing the document and taken by the Committee in private.
(4)  Where, at the request of a witness, evidence is taken by the Committee in private:
(a)  the Committee shall not, without the consent in writing of the witness, and
(b)  a person (including a member of the Committee) shall not, without the consent in writing of the witness and the authority of the Committee under subsection (6),
disclose or publish the whole or a part of that evidence.

Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months.

(5)  Where evidence is taken by the Committee in private otherwise than at the request of a witness, a person (including a member of the Committee) shall not, without the authority of the Committee under subsection (6), disclose or publish the whole or a part of that evidence.

Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months.

(6)  The Committee may, in its discretion, disclose or publish or, by writing under the hand of the Chair, authorise the disclosure or publication of evidence taken in private by the Committee, but this subsection does not operate so as to affect the necessity for the consent of a witness under subsection (4).
(7)  Nothing in this section prohibits:
(a)  the disclosure or publication of evidence that has already been lawfully published, or
(b)  the disclosure or publication by a person of a matter of which the person has become aware otherwise than by reason, directly or indirectly, of the giving of evidence before the Committee.
(8)  This section has effect notwithstanding section 4 of the Parliamentary Papers (Supplementary Provisions) Act 1975.
(9)  If evidence taken by the Committee in private is disclosed or published in accordance with this section, sections 5 and 6 of the Parliamentary Papers (Supplementary Provisions) Act 1975 apply to and in relation to the disclosure or publication as if it were a publication of that evidence under the authority of section 4 of that Act.
Note. The Defamation Act 2005 makes provision for 2 defences in respect of the publication of defamatory matter that is contained in evidence taken by, or documents produced to, the Committee in private, but only if the evidence or documents have been disclosed or published in accordance with this section.

Section 28 of the Defamation Act 2005 (when read with clause 8 of Schedule 2 to that Act) ensures that such documents attract the defence relating to public documents in defamation proceedings.

Section 29 of the Defamation Act 2005 (when read with clause 17 of Schedule 3 to that Act) ensures that proceedings in which such evidence is taken or documents produced attract the defences relating to fair reports of proceedings of public concern in defamation proceedings.

(10)  Where the Committee as constituted at any time has taken evidence in relation to a matter but the Committee as so constituted has ceased to exist before reporting on the matter, the Committee as constituted at any subsequent time, whether during the same or another Parliament, may consider that evidence as if it had taken that evidence.
(11)  The production of documents to the Committee shall be in accordance with the practice of the Legislative Assembly with respect to the production of documents to select committees of the Legislative Assembly.
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