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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 October 2010) . . Page.. 4563 ..


ACT community who have been observing this very closely—not just Mr Cahill and not just the other people who have been caught up in this—who are concerned about the capacity of this man to exercise his position as Attorney-General.

The position of Attorney-General is a position of high trust and I think that what we are seeing here today is a minister who has failed in that high trust and a minister who has failed to exercise his powers appropriately. There is much more to be seen in this. We must review the papers. I thank the minister for finally having the courage to provide those papers and I also look forward to a satisfactory conclusion of my FOI request which is currently afoot. I hope that we will have a full disclosure in that as well.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo), by leave: I welcome the minister making the statement today and also tabling the documents relating to this matter. It is important that both the attorney’s account of events and the documents are placed on the record. I do not particularly wish to comment on the observations Mrs Dunne has just made, other than to say that I think the whole affair has left us with an entirely unsatisfactory outcome. It is unsatisfactory on a number of levels. It is also unfortunate in terms of the timing in which it took place and the proximity to Mr Cahill’s retirement. It is also unfortunate that the reputation of many people has been called into question. I will come back to that in a moment.

At the end of the day, the outcome is unsatisfactory on a number of levels. I would like to elaborate on why I think that is so. It is unsatisfactory for those involved. Clearly, for former Chief Magistrate Cahill, as an individual, natural justice has been denied. He has not had a chance to confront the allegations through a proper hearing and get a decision. Instead, the allegations will linger. That is an unfortunate outcome. It is also an unfortunate outcome for magistrates Burns and Fryar, who were the source of the original complaint. I can only imagine that it was very difficult for them to come forth with a complaint in the first instance against one of their colleagues, knowing that it would be a matter of some controversy and considerable difficulty within judicial circles.

To my mind, what is perhaps of greater significance is the highly unsatisfactory outcome for the justice system in the ACT. We are now left with a situation where a matter of some substance was raised—that is, a complaint against a judicial officer—and we have no understanding or resolution as to whether or not it was an appropriate complaint. This is unsatisfactory in terms of the administration of justice in the ACT. A question has been raised and that question has been left unanswered. We now find ourselves in a situation where the matter has been debated in the pages of the newspaper through various columns—and it is now being debated in this chamber—and we have not had an opportunity to address this important judicial question in an impartial and objective way, as the judicial commission would have done.

To my mind, that leaves us with a most important question and I think it raises some real issues. Under the current rules, there is no mechanism to resolve this matter. We have no way of going forward now, other than ongoing debate in various fora. There is no formal mechanism to resolve this and make a ruling or draw a conclusion in a satisfactory way. That is something this Assembly may wish to consider in future. I


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