Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 October 2010) . . Page.. 4558 ..
These documents have been de-identified as the identities of certain persons involved remain the subject of a suppression order.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra), by leave: This is a most important and grave matter which I have said from the outset needs to be handled with the utmost care. I think that the statement today is more of a protection exercise for the minister than an exposition of the utmost care that was necessary. From the outset I believe that the minister has handled this matter quite inappropriately. I took time this morning to reflect on the notes that I took of various meetings that I had with Mr Corbell. You too, Mr Speaker, were in some of those meetings back in November last year when this matter first arose.
When the matter first arose I asked for a briefing on the issues and I was granted one by the minister on 4 November. I was struck at the time by how keen the minister was to proceed down a particular course of action. This is why I took the notes that I did. I think that the minister has handled this matter quite inappropriately from day one. At the outset, I did take issue with the minister on the way that he handled the matter and the way that he handled it in the media—the fact that he went out and had a press conference.
His excuse for that was that he had been pestered—they were his words—by the media throughout the day and he had eventually given up and decided that instead of issuing a statement which would be appropriate in the severe and solemn circumstances that we were dealing with, he went out and he made a press statement. This, of course, caused the whole thing to explode in a quite inappropriate way and the minister has behaved in an inappropriate way since then.
It was quite clear from the very first meeting that I had with Mr Corbell on this matter that he was going to go down the path of a judicial commission. He was quite excited about the prospect. His body language and everything about him—he was nervous but he was excited at the anticipation of being a groundbreaking Attorney-General and instituting a judicial review. That is the only conclusion I can make.
It was very early in the piece that he raised with me the prospect of pursuing Magistrate Cahill even into his retirement because I raised with him the issue that Magistrate Cahill at the time was only about six weeks away from his retirement. The attorney said to me words along the lines that he could not envisage sitting at a ceremonial sitting to mark Magistrate Cahill’s retirement knowing what he knew, that if we went down the path of a judicial commission there was very little chance it would be concluded by the time that Magistrate Cahill retired and that we would have to contemplate, and I was asked to go and consult with my party about whether we would contemplate, an amendment to the Judicial Commissions Act to allow this matter to continue after Mr Cahill retired.
I went away and I discussed this with my leader. He gave me very sage advice. He said, “Vicki, go away and write down notes of everything that was said because it will be important that we have a good record of what has happened here.” I consistently questioned whether a judicial commission was the appropriate path and whether it was warranted. But from the outset the minister said that he believed the