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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (20 February) . . Page.. 408..


Sub judice-ruling by Mr Speaker

MR SPEAKER: Members, I wish to make a statement concerning the application of the sub judice convention. The sub judice convention, as described in the third edition of House of Representatives Practice, is:

... subject to the right of the house to legislate on any matter, matters awaiting adjudication in a court of law should not be brought forward in debate, motions or questions.

Members will be aware that on Tuesday, 19 February the Chief Minister tabled, pursuant to the Inquiries Act, two reports into disability services, together with statements by various public servants. Members may also be aware that those public servants are pursuing in the Supreme Court further matters in relation to the conduct of the inquiry. In addition, there are two coronial inquiries yet to be completed concerning the deaths of two persons in the care of Disability Services.

In deciding whether to invoke the convention for debate, questions and motions concerning proceedings in both the Supreme Court and the Coroners Court, I intend to follow the principles that are set out in the 10th edition of Odgers' Australian Senate Practice, namely: there should be an assessment of whether there is a real danger of prejudice in the sense that it would cause real prejudice to the outcome of the trial or inquest; the danger of the prejudice must be weighed against the public interest in the matters under discussion; and the danger of prejudice is greater when a matter is actually before a magistrate or a jury.

It should be noted that magistrates undertake the duties of a coroner in the ACT. I therefore ask members to be mindful of this issue when making comments in the Assembly on these matters. My ruling is that, in relation to the two matters still before the coroner, members should restrain their comments about the cause of death of the two persons involved. In relation to the matter before the Supreme Court, I ask that members refrain from addressing issues in relation to the procedural fairness of the conduct of the Gallop inquiry.

State control of planning and land development in the territory

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR SPEAKER: I have received a letter from Mrs Dunne proposing that a matter of public importance be submitted to the Assembly for discussion, namely:

The deleterious effect of the moves by the Minister for Planning to resume state control of planning and land development in the Territory.

MRS DUNNE (3.37): Mr Speaker, in rising to speak to my matter of public importance about the deleterious effects of the moves by the Minister for Planning to resume state control of planning and land development in this territory, I do so with deep concern, as we are seeing the beginning of a process that threatens to turn back the clock in the ACT.


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