[LINK] Broadband for a Broad Land

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Wed Feb 16 12:08:10 AEDT 2011

At 11:31 +1100 16/2/11, Tom Worthington wrote:
>Any suggestions on how to respond to the committee's request would be

The Committee Secretary is out of order and/or outdatedly pompous 
both to say "it is not supposed to be published or disclosed until it 
has been considered by the committee", and to request that it be 

Although that's a better choice of expression than some I've seen ...

What I understand to be a correct statement (and a reasonable one) is 
that "submissions to Committees attract parliamentary privilege. 
That privilege may be voided if the submission is published (in any 
sense of the word) prior to being considered by the Committee.  We 
accordingly recommend that you withhold publication until then".  It 
would of course be sensible if that were communicated in advance 
rather than in arrears ...

In any case, I would expect that privilege has been voided by the 
fact of publication, and withdrawal pending acceptance by the 
Committee is unlikely to resuscitate a voided privilege.

Organisations whose work I'm familiar with generally use the same 
method as you do, marking the documents as 'Draft', and making clear 
that the purpose of publication is to gain feedback prior to 
submission.  (That can be as simple as pre-pending 'RFC: ' to the 
Subject line of a posting).

It's quite impractical for any organisation of more than one person 
to avoid at least limited publication prior to submission, and it 
would reduce submission quality if sole-authored documents were 
prevented from receiving feedback in advance of submission.

Feel free to use any of the above in a reply if it helps.

But maybe just ignore the letter.

If they decline to accept the submission for that reason (which I 
think is pretty unlikely), write to the Speaker of the HoR and 
formally complain about it.

</possibly pompous and probably pointless pontification>


At 11:31 +1100 16/2/11, Tom Worthington wrote:
>>  I started writing a submission for the NBN Inquiry ...
>I sent my submission to the NBN inquiry on Monday, along the lines of my
>Blog posting:
>However, the Inquiry Secretary for the House of Representatives Standing
>Committee on Infrastructure and Communications has replied asking to
>remove the draft from the web, saying that "... a submission has been
>sent to a committee it is not supposed to be published or disclosed
>until it has been considered by the committee. ...".
>This issue came up more than ten years ago when I was preparing
>submissions to Senate committees on behalf of the Australian Computer
>Society. For those inquiries I developed the technique of placing the
>drat submission online so as to have maximum consultation with members
>and other bodies. So as not to breech committee rules, I marked these
>documents "Draft", to distinguish them from the actual final submission
>made. I had no concerns expressed by the committee secretariats with
>this practice. Like the process of making submissions in electronic
>format (the precedent for which was set by an ACS submission), I had
>assumed this was now accepted practice for parliamentary inquiries.
>If I am required to obtain permission from a parliamentary committee
>before discussing a topic with anyone, it will make preparation of any
>submission very difficult.
>I an not a lawyer, but my understating is that my right to discuss any
>issues I wish, with whom ever I wish, is a fundamental one, as
>recognised by the High Court of Australia. Therefore a rule by a
>parliamentary committee requiring me to seek their prior permission is
>Any suggestions on how to respond to the committee's request would be
>Tom Worthington FACS CP HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
>PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
>Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Computer Science, The
>Australian National University http://cs.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP7310/
>Visiting Scientist, CSIRO ICT Centre: http://bit.ly/csiro_ict_canberra
>Link mailing list
>Link at mailman.anu.edu.au

Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University

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