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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 3 Hansard (14 March) . . Page.. 526..

MR SPEAKER (continuing):

reflection, I believe that the comments are primarily related to the findings of the Coroner's Court. The Macquarie Dictionary defines "offensive"as:

repugnant to the moral sense, good taste, or the like; insulting.

I do not believe that the words and phrases are of such a character that they are offensive in nature. Nor do I believe that the comments undermine public respect for the judiciary. I therefore rule that the statements are in order.

Questions without notice

Bushfires—coronial inquest

MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, yesterday in question time you were critical of the coroner for not looking more closely at the McIntyres Hut fire in New South Wales. You said:

Its omission from the report leaves an enormous gap in our understanding.

In her report, Coroner Doogan noted that counsel for the New South Wales government had made extensive submissions highlighting the restrictions on the coroner looking at the fire in New South Wales, including her ability to make adverse findings about an agency of the New South Wales government. In her report she states:

By and large I accept these submissions that I have no legal power to formally find the cause and origin of a fire ... in NSW.

Chief Minister, were you advised of the restrictions placed on the scope of the coronial inquest regarding the McIntyres Hut fire while in New South Wales? What actions, if any, did you take to persuade the New South Wales government to cooperate more fully in holding this inquest?

MR STANHOPE: I was not critical of the coroner yesterday. The answer is no.

Mr Stefaniak: No action for New South Wales?

MR SPEAKER: Is there a supplementary question?

MR STEFANIAK: Yes, Mr Speaker. I thank the Chief Minister for his answer—or lack thereof. The supplementary is this: Chief Minister, will you support the holding of a federal royal commission into the 2003 bushfires to fill what you concede to be "an enormous gap in our understanding"of the fires?

MR STANHOPE: It needs to be noted that the issue of the cause of the fire in Canberra or the devastation as a result of the McIntyres Hut fire is a matter the subject of an appeal to the Supreme Court of the ACT at the moment. I do not believe that that is an issue that I should be agitating in this place.

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