"How will social media affect parliamentary privilege?"

Thanks for your question, Danielle. Many parliamentarians use social media and the Australian Parliament has considered the issue in the past.

Parliamentary privilege is legal protection given to members of parliament, or witnesses appearing before parliamentary committees, to ensure they cannot be sued or prosecuted for anything they say or do during parliamentary proceedings.

In 2013, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ms Anna Burke MP, made a ruling on social media and parliamentary privilege, stating ‘… any comments made on social media, even if made from the chamber precincts, are not covered by parliamentary privilege.’

Similar principles are likely to apply in the Senate.

A statement made by an MP or senator on social media is considered to be the same as if, for example, they were speaking at a press conference or to the media, rather than speaking in parliamentary proceedings.

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