The South Australian Government will suspend its plans for martial law and a shoot-on-sight policy – or their parliamentary equivalents, anyway – with news that it lacks the numbers to suspend centuries-old parliamentary privilege laws.

Suspend. It seems they lack the brains – or the guts – to pull the bill altogether at the moment. They are still as obsessed about looking tough as any B-film mafioso – even though they have just had a major, major loss of face.

The Rann Labor Government introduced legislation on Monday to remove the protection of parliamentary privilege for anyone who named a current MP, a former MP and two serving police officers currently the subject of unsubstantiated paedophilia allegations. The government had the numbers to push the unprecedented legislation through the lower house, but the Democrats killed the plans off yesterday when they announced that, along with the Liberals, they would block it in the Legislative Council.

State Democrats’ leader Sandra Kanck said everything anyone needed to know about the proposal: “A precedent would be set which would remove parliamentary privilege – a 400-year-old tradition vital to every Westminster government. The mere possibility of a false accusation is no reason to end parliamentary privilege. This legislation is actually about gagging parliament and the media’s reporting on parliament to protect the electoral prospects of the Labor Government.”

Peter Fray

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