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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 158..


MR QUINLAN: Of course not. Let me say that this is not absolutely common because some will not see and some do not have the background or the capacity to see that in fact most superannuation funds virtually effectively across the western world have taken something of a hiding over the last couple of years. This is equally true of Australian states-Victoria, a billion dollars; New South Wales has lost huge amounts of money. In fact, it is only the states that do not have liquid investments supporting their superannuation liability that look better. I am not arguing for zero investment to support our superannuation. I do think we should support it. I remind members of the madness that it was to sell off an asset like Actew, to either pull huge amounts of capital out of it or to sell off half of it and turn that into liquid funds and then lose on it. I thought that was crazy. That was the punt that was taken and it was a punt that was warned against.

Let me assure you, Mr Speaker, that the ACT is not alone. In fact, it is not as bad as many in terms of the level of losses that have been suffered with superannuation investments. I do expect to have to stand in this place again and try to communicate this position because, as I have said, I do not think the new shadow Treasurer has the self-respect to at least educate himself and recognise that he ought to at least deal with the facts rather than a fiction.

Bushfires

MRS CROSS: My question is to the Attorney-General and concerns the protection of witnesses before the impending inquiries into the January bushfire disasters.

Minister, inquiries under the Inquiries Act 1991 and Assembly inquiries attract privilege, and witnesses are protected accordingly. Is it your intention that witnesses before the pending McLeod inquiry and the coronial inquiry will have their evidence protected?

MR STANHOPE: The coronial inquiry into the deaths, which has commenced, will certainly attract all the privileges and protections that are part and parcel of our court system. In that respect, the witnesses and evidence before the coronial court will be fully protected. The coronial inquiry will attract the privilege, and witnesses will have available to them all the protections that are available to witnesses before the court. They are the most significant protections that any jurisdiction makes available to any of its citizens.

Indeed, the major protections available through any other mechanism are those that are available to our courts and parliaments. A court and a parliament essentially have the same range of powers in relation to privilege and the overall protection of the proceedings undertaken in those institutions.

Yes: all evidence presented or submissions made to the coroner in relation to the fire will be fully protected in all respects, and so will the witnesses. Witnesses will be protected against intimidation or any action that might be alleged to be taken against them as a result of their appearance before the court for the purpose of their involvement in the matter under inquiry.


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