Speaker rejects abuse of privilege investigation request

KEY independent Tony Windsor did not breach parliamentary privilege when he claimed mining billionaire Gina Rinehart donated $700,000 to Barnaby Joyce's election campaign in New England.

Mr Windsor made the remarks during a speech to the Parliament on Tuesday, prompting Ms Rinehart to issue a statement denying the claims.

The member for New England later admitted he had no evidence to support his claim.

Speaker Anna Burke revealed this morning she had rejected Nationals Leader Warren Truss' request for the comments to be investigated as an abuse of privilege.

"To be pursued as a matter of privilege, by reference to the Committee of Privileges and Members Interests, there would need to be some prima facie evidence that the references had constituted an improper interference with the work of the House," Ms Burke said in the House of Representatives on Monday morning.

"In my opinion the information provided does not constitute prima facie evidence that a contempt has been committed."

Ms Burke said it was a question of weighing up an MP's right to speak freely with a recognition this privilege came was "very powerful and should be exercised with care".

Asked about the matter on Sunday Mr Truss said members had a duty to ensure their remarks in the House had "some essence of fact".

He acknowledged Ms Rinehart had been a "good supporter" of the Nationals, but said it was "outrageous" for Mr Windsor to suggest she had funded Mr Joyce's campaign directly.

Topics:  barnaby joyce federal election 2013 federal parliament gina rinehart tony windsor warren truss

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