Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 3 Hansard (13 March) . . Page.. 483..
Mr Stefaniak (continuing):
The final quote from Dr Foskey is at page 47:
First, while the coroner implies that the Chief Minister should resign, citing the Westminster convention and supported by her expert witness Sir Peter Lawler, I believe that if she had wanted this—and it never became a recommendation—she should have mounted a more extensive investigation. Why was Bill Wood, who took leave for one, the worst, day, not seen to bear any responsibility? Why weren't he and other members of cabinet called? The opposition says it has no confidence in the Chief Minister. That is predictable, but the opposition's role is political while the coroner's is judicial. There is not enough in her report to justify this, and it is noteworthy that she does no more than imply it, through the words of Sir Peter Lawler.
At page 56 Mr Corbell said:
I join with the Chief Minister in saying that this particular assertion by the coroner is an abhorrent one and is totally unreasonable.
Some of those comments are perhaps more aggressive than others, Mr Speaker, but clearly you, quite correctly, made two statements at the start of that debate. One was in relation to the sub judice rule and the second one was about remarks in relation to judicial officers, quoting standing order 54 and section 14 of the Judicial Commissions Act 1994. Those comments are the ones that I have extracted from Hansard. Accordingly, Mr Speaker, I seek your ruling because quite clearly, in my submission, they all—some probably more blatantly than others—go against the ruling you so, in my view, correctly made and very strongly made at the start of the actual debate.
Mr Corbell: On the point of order, Mr Speaker: Mr Stefaniak fails to draw the distinction between reflecting on the character of a judicial officer and making comments about the findings of a judicial officer. I think that is the matter at the heart of this debate. It is quite legitimate for any member to question the findings of a judicial officer and seek to agree or disagree with them, particularly when a member is the person involved or the person named in such conclusions or findings by a judicial officer. Indeed, Mr Stefaniak does so frequently when he reflects on his view, his perception, that the courts are too lenient in relation to certain sentencing. They are not reflections on a judicial officer; they are reflections on the decisions of judicial officers.
Nowhere in the quotes raised by Mr Stefaniak, from my hearing of them, is there any reflection on the character or conduct of the judicial officer—only on the findings of the judicial officer—and the point of order is without any merit.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Stefaniak, as he has mentioned, has written to me. It is not my practice to enter into exchanges of correspondence about my adjudication of the standing orders in this place, and I indicated to Mr Stefaniak the option for him to raise it in this place if that is what he wished to do.
It is, of course, usual practice for members to raise these matters as events occur; in that way rulings from the chair assist other contributors to the debate as the debate