Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2525..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
report is tabled in this Assembly. It would ensure a level playing field for all of those involved in any inquiry.
The reason there were delays in the tabling of the Gallop report was not the inaction of the executive government or conflicting legal advice; rather it was the fact that the executive government released part of the report to a select few of the players. These people did not like what they saw in the report and took out an injunction to stop the further release of the report. This was not a matter of parliamentary privilege; this was a matter of selectively releasing information. The argument and conflicting legal advice over the extent of parliamentary privilege came after this mismanagement of the release of the report.
Then Mr Humphries introduced some legislation, which has the exact opposite effect of my legislation, to extend privilege to any prereleasing of the report. We have also heard from the Chief Minister that the Stanhope government is reviewing the Inquiries Act and that we can expect an outcome of this review soon. But this review has been going on for the last 12 months, and I am sure that the information from the review would have been helpful in the debates we had over the last couple of months about the McLeod inquiry.
We have seen a haphazard approach to inquiry reports, with bits of them released to some people, some of them given to departments and some given elsewhere before they are actually given to the parliament. That shows a complete lack of respect for the way parliamentary systems are meant to work. And what is the role of parliaments versus the role of governments? I welcome the comments from the members today and recognise that this piece of legislation is not going to become law, but I think it is an important debate that we are having about how the executive and inquiries under ACT law are reported to this place.
Because of the recent debates over the bushfire inquiry, we all have a heightened awareness of the rules governing privilege as they extend to boards of inquiries and other inquiries. I thought it was appropriate to debate this bill today because the bill would make clear when and where a board of inquiry report can be released. The bill makes the Inquiries Act more workable and restores the Assembly to its place at the heart of parliamentary privilege, not the executive or a minister's press conference.
Question resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr Stanhope) proposed:
That the Assembly now adjourn.
Death of Dr George Stern
MR SMYTH(Leader of the Opposition) (6.38): I rise to speak on two issues. The first is the death of Dr George Stern. Aside from Dr Stern's many achievements as a scholar, academic and chess player, he also ran a course at the ANU Centre for