Media leak to be investigated by Tasmanian Parliament's Privileges Committee

A crucial leak to media from the Public Accounts Committee’s inquiry on the state’s energy crisis could be referred to the Privileges Committee for investigation.

Windermere independent MLC Ivan Dean

Windermere independent MLC Ivan Dean

The committee in March had discussed issuing a subpoena to Treasurer Peter Gutwein to release a letter between himself and Energy Minister Matthew Groom regarding the sale of the Tamar Valley Power Station’s combined-cycle unit.

Mr Gutwein had on a number of times refused to release the letter in full, saying it had been discussed in cabinet and was therefore unable to be disclosed.

He also accused the committee of being “tainted”, owing to a series of leaks of confidential information.

The committee’s discussion was leaked to the ABC which reported the matter before Mr Gutwein had been issued with the summons to reappear before the inquiry.

Public Accounts Committee Ivan Dean on Tuesday foreshadowed that the matter could be investigated by the Privileges Committee after the Legislative Council discussed a special report on the issue.

Mr Dean described the leaking to the media – one of three unauthorised disclosures over the course of the inquiry – as a "contemptuous" act.

He said that and Mr Gutwein’s refusal to comply with orders from the committee to release the document had damaged the integrity of the Parliament.

Derwent Labor MLC Craig Farrell said Mr Gutwein’s immunity claim on the document needed to be tested as it could set a precedent for future governments not to disclose important information.

Murchison independent MLC Ruth Forrest said the cabinet-in-confidence claim needed to be independently tested by somebody other than an Right To Information officer.