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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 3 Hansard (13 March) . . Page.. 450..

Bushfires—coronial inquest

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Chief Minister. Last week you stated that you were available for further examination on the matter of a phone call from Mr Castle on the evening of 17 January 2003. In fact, you were invited to give evidence to the coroner about the matter of your calls with Mr Castle and Mr Keady. She said on 10 May 2004:

I would like to enquire of the Chief Minister whether or not he wishes to return to this inquiry to give evidence about the contents of his letter to me of last Tuesday. I say that because the Chief Minister has been explaining his position to the media in various interviews to the press. I wish to afford him the opportunity, if he wishes, to likewise explain or give some further evidence to this inquiry.

Chief Minister, you declined the coroner's invitation. Why did you claim that you had made yourself available to give further evidence when you had not? Why wouldn't you give further evidence on this matter to the coroner?

MR STANHOPE: I stood ready at all times. In fact, in relation to a judicial process such as a coronial inquest, it is not a question of whether or not one stands ready. One is subject to the will of the court in relation to these matters. If the coroner wished for me to be further examined, the coroner had it in her capacity to call me, as she did prior to that. These are matters for the coroner. These are not matters for others.

In fact, I would very much have liked the minister responsible at the relevant times, namely, the minister for emergency services, Bill Wood, to have been called and given evidence. I would have thought that would have been appropriate. I would have been very happy for all of my other ministers, particularly in relation to the negative comments concerning the cabinet as a whole, to have been afforded an opportunity to give evidence. I think that it would have enhanced the quality of that issue had the evidence of the four ministers concerned been weighed in the balance, rather than just one and that one not even being the minister.

MR SMYTH: Chief Minister, will you tell the Assembly today about the phone calls from Messrs Keady and Castle?

MR STANHOPE: I have given full and complete evidence to the coroner and I have given detailed statements to the coroner on these matters. I have agitated these matters over the last four years in this place, including through two no confidence motions. I think that all of the evidence and all of the information that anybody could wish for in relation to any of these issues has been provided ad nauseam, certainly in this place over the last four years through two no confidence motions and certainly during sworn evidence before the coroner, during sworn statements to the coroner. There have been, I think, a thousand lines of evidence and statements given by me on these matters. I would refer the member to Hansard and I would refer the member to the transcript of the coronial inquest.

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