The Speaker of South Australian Parliament’s Lower House has claimed parliamentary privilege over documents gathered by a private investigator into an MP who allegedly assaulted another politician at a 2019 Christmas party, a court has heard.
- Sam Duluk is accused of slapping another MP on the backside
- He faced the Adelaide Magistrates Court today charged with basic assault
- Documents from a private investigation launched by the Speaker will be kept out of court
Former Liberal, now independent, MP Sam Duluk today fronted the Adelaide Magistrates Court for the second time charged with one count of basic assault.
The Member for Waite will fight allegations he slapped SA Best MLC Connie Bonaros on the backside at an event at Parliament House Christmas party last December.
He is yet to enter a plea to the charge.
In October, lawyers for Mr Duluk asked the court for access to documents from Paul Hocking of Quark & Associates, who conducted an independent investigation into the politician’s behaviour at the event.
Today, the court heard those documents would be covered by parliamentary privilege and not released to Mr Duluk.
Damian O’Leary, for House of Assembly Speaker Josh Teague, told Magistrate John Fahey that his client had provided a letter to the court.
“[It] makes a claim that the documents in possession of Quark & Associates relate entirely to the investigative activities undertaken at the request of the former speaker [Vincent Tarzia],” he said.
“In that respect, the documents are only documents that have been brought into existence for the purposes of the investigation that has been made at the request of the [former] speaker and for reporting to Parliament.
Lawyers for Mr Duluk told the court they did not plan to “press against the claim of parliamentary privilege”.
“As I understand it, everything returned is covered by a privilege — we’re not opposing that claim so the summons has been satisfied,” he said.
Police prosecutor Paul Tate agreed there was no opposition to the privilege claim.
Magistrate wants more detail
But Magistrate Fahey said despite all parties agreeing the privilege applied to the documents, he sought further written submissions from Mr O’Leary.
“You wouldn’t be surprised that this is not a regular occurrence in my court — so I don’t know what to do,” he said.
In January, Liberal MP and then-speaker Vincent Tarzia released a statement saying he had appointed an independent investigator with “considerable experience” undertaking confidential investigations dealing with complaints made within the public sector.
The following month, Premier Steven Marshall banished Mr Duluk from the Liberal partyroom, describing his position as “untenable”.
Following the alleged assault, Mr Duluk issued an apology on Twitter, saying he was “deeply sorry for any actions that have caused offence”.
Mr Duluk has relinquished the chairmanship of Parliament’s Economic and Finance Committee and said he would seek professional help for his alcohol use.
He faces a maximum penalty of two years’ jail and will be back before the court in February.