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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 5 Hansard (13 May) . . Page.. 1822..


Mr Stanhope: You have got the transcripts, mate?

MR SPEAKER: Order members! Mr Quinlan has the floor.

MR QUINLAN: Mr Smyth's case, Mr Speaker, is not a case and it is demonstrably not a case. I have witnessed in this place, since that bushfire, the other side gradually trying to muster the courage to see how much they can get out of this bushfire. In fact, in the past couple of days Mr Smyth has used the term "crocodile tears". Well, in relation to the bushfire, we have had, and I have no doubt we will continue to have, a stream of crocodile tears from people who are having difficulty in trying to mask their delight and are slavering over the prospect that they might get some political advantage out of this.

This lot, who have been described, not by me but by commentators, as the worst opposition since self-government, has got one, excuse the pun, spark of a chance. But let me say that this case brought today has been built totally on spurious inventions in Mr Smyth's mind.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (4.13): Mr Speaker, I wish to speak only briefly. I just want to mention a couple of things. I think Mr Quinlan has put a case of rebuttal particularly well and there is nothing to be gained by my repeating it.

I want to say a couple of things, though, Mr Speaker. I think I need to make the point that I have been hesitant, on the public record and in this place, about making the case or the defence, or going into detail around the defences that might be made, because of the coronial inquest. I have a very serious concern about the extent to which behaviour in the media particularly, the behaviour of the opposition in this place, the behaviour of the opposition driven through the media, really has impacted on and affected the coronial inquest.

The coronial inquest is going on. It is going on at a great rate and at a great pace. It is actually examining hundreds, if not thousands, of pages of information-examining, I think, somewhere between 150 to 200 witnesses. It has not yet completed that task. It is important that there be procedural fairness. It is important that all the facts be known before the conclusions that have been already drawn by the opposition are drawn and made.

Mr Quinlan made the point about all those false assumptions and, really, the dangerous and defamatory speculation that results from some of the conclusions that have been drawn that are patently wrong-such as the outrageous, false and defamatory stories of just today in relation to Red Hill. I was not on Red Hill on the Friday night before the fire, and we have heard today the defamation of me, the lies and the falsity around that. The implications of that, not just for me but for the coronial process, are quite extreme. It is an indication of the extent to which this witch-hunt that has cumulated in the motion against me today has led to lie upon lie and the creation of fiction in the pursuit of me politically outside the context of the coronial inquest.

I think it needs to be said that this is nothing but a political witch-hunt for my scalp. Be honest about it. You have not even debated the issue that purports to underline your


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