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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 550..


MR HARGREAVES: The fact of the matter is this: I have come into this place before and put figures on the table. Mr Pratt is at liberty to go through the Hansard until he turns blue. At the end of the day he will see that extra resources have been put into this particular activity of policing by the Stanhope government since it came to office in 2001 that puts the actual resources put into policing by the previous Liberal government to shame. If Mr Pratt wants absolute numbers, he can do what any other industrious member can do. He can go back and look at previous entries in the Hansard.

Attorney-General-use of external counsel

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Attorney-General. Attorney, during 2004-05, the ACT DPP spent more than $950,000 to obtain the services of external legal counsel. In contrast, the NSW DPP spent just over $400,000 during the same period, while the Northern Territory spent only around $50,000. Why did the ACT DPP spend more than twice the amount that was spent by the NSW DPP on the engagement of external legal counsel in 2004-05? On what matters were these external counsel used?

MR STANHOPE: I thank the shadow attorney for the question. I regret that I do not have the answer at my fingertips. I am more than happy to seek advice on all counsel employed or engaged by the Director of Public Prosecutions and to provide you, and indeed the Assembly, with details of the amounts paid to each of the counsel engaged and the matters on which they were engaged. Having said that, I have a suspicion that issues around the coronial inquest into the 2003 bushfires would have been a significant feature, but I am surmising. I assume that engagement of counsel to assist the coroner and engagement of counsel in relation to that particular matter would have been major contributors to those figures. That is just a guess. I will provide the information as soon as I can get it. I have no issue with that.

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Attorney, what prevents the ACT government from using its own legal professionals in the matters for which external counsel are employed?

MR STANHOPE: I would have to take advice on the detail of that. I think it needs to be acknowledged that the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Australian Capital Territory is a small one because of the size of the jurisdiction. There are issues around economies and the level of expertise and experience available within that office which from time to time would lead the director to seek external expertise, particularly in areas in relation to which staff in his office would not have a significant level of experience. For instance, there may have been two or three murder prosecutions in the last year. That figure comes off the top of my head; and you may know this, Mr Stefaniak. It begs the question whether or not an ACT prosecutor would have the requisite level of experience to prosecute a murder, which is the most serious of all crimes that can possibly be committed.

In that event, it is a question for the director as to whether he would vest responsibility in one of his staff for such a significant major prosecution, knowing that his staff at that stage might not have the level of experience he would hope for. In that circumstance he would say, "I have staff; they have not had a deal of experience in the prosecution of a


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