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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (22 October) . . Page.. 3913..


Questions without notice

Bushfires-coronial inquest

MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Chief Minister. Yesterday, in answer to a question about what CSIRO fire expert Phil Cheney had told the Emergency Services Bureau about the impending bushfire, as reported on page 1 of the Canberra Times of 14 January, you said, amongst other things, "I don't believe he told the Emergency Services Bureau."Chief Minister, do you think that it is proper to impugn the integrity of a public servant of whom you have never heard, testifying on oath, on no firmer basis than the accusation that the public servant in question, Mr Cheney, had remained silent when his interview was cancelled?

MR STANHOPE: As I indicated yesterday, I am concerned that the Liberal Party in this place, the opposition, are keen or determined to have a rerun of questioning in the Coroners Court on issues before the coronial inquest.

Mrs Dunne: I take a point of order under standing order 118 (a), Mr Speaker. The Chief Minister is not answering the question. On two or three occasions he has said that he is concerned about the Liberal Party's approach to questions.

MR SPEAKER: What is the point of order, Mrs Dunne?

Mrs Dunne: That Mr Stanhope is not answering but giving a discourse on his concern about the Liberal Party's approach to questions. If he has a concern, he might seek your guidance as to whether they are in order.

MR SPEAKER: What is the point of order?

Mrs Dunne: That he should answer the question in accordance with standing order 118 (a).

MR SPEAKER: I think that he is. Your question raised the issue of the response that he gave yesterday.

Mr Wood: Mr Speaker, on the point of order, the alleged point of order, the non-point of order: I ask you to require that the opposition cease their deliberate tactic of interrupting without reason as often as they can. That is a tactic that they are employing and it is improper.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Frivolous points of order are out of order. Chief Minister, would you like to continue?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was alluding to the direction, the information or the guidance that you did provide to the Assembly yesterday in relation to the way in which matters before a coroners court have been dealt with, particularly in the federal parliament, from which we take some guidance. Mr Speaker, I recall that you alluded to the fact that members should use some discretion in seeking to visit in a parliament issues before a coroners court. I made the point yesterday, but the opposition were determined to continue for the purposes of cheap political yardage or mileage to


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