None . . Page.. 514 ..
The remarks made by Ms Tucker also made reference to examining the resourcing of the Human Rights Office. I indicate that that is also a quite dangerous red herring to introduce into this debate. I believe that Ms Follett has also raised the question of there being proper resources to have this matter dealt with quickly. I start by saying that the Government would dearly love this matter to be dealt with as quickly as possible. If we could arrange for the matter to be heard tomorrow, we would do it; but there is the small but not inconsequential matter from the point of view of the complainant in this matter that there are procedures set out in the legislation and in the instruments operating under the legislation that enable a person to have their claim and their allegations properly ventilated in the human rights commission. I cannot truncate that process. The commission cannot truncate that process unduly.
People who come before the commissioner are entitled to prepare their case and to take appropriate time to deal with certain matters such as conciliation steps and preparation for hearing steps before the commissioner. It is not appropriate or indeed legally possible for people in this place to attempt to manipulate that particular process. What is more, the human rights commissioner has indicated to me that she sees the process by which this matter should be dealt with as taking a certain amount of time which I believe it is not possible to truncate. I want to quote one paragraph from a minute that she has sent to me on this subject. She states:
The speed with which I can make a decision on the threshold issue of the correct respondent(s) to the matter will dictate the timing of the full hearing into the complaint. However, in order to permit proper process, the exchange of documents would ordinarily take approximately two and a half months from the time of the decision about respondents. Any requests for expedition agreed to by all parties could speed up this process.
It is clear from that that there is no question of Ms Tucker, I or anybody else in this place, except Mr De Domenico, having any capacity to reduce the period of time it will take to get this matter to a proper hearing. It is also a matter for the complainant in this matter to determine whether she will consent to processes which would reduce the time it would take to have this matter dealt with by the tribunal. There is no issue of there being inadequate resources to deal with the matter. Even if, as Ms Follett suggests we should, we appointed a special commissioner to come forward and hear this complaint instead of Ms Burnett, the Discrimination Commissioner, we would not see any reduction in the time it takes to hear this matter.
I am extremely receptive and have conveyed to the commission that if they wish additional resources to deal with this matter we will certainly entertain that suggestion. There has been no request from the commission to do that. There is also a question whether it is appropriate to provide particular resources to hear a case involving an ACT Government Minister when there are other matters before the commission which are important to the complainants in those matters and which should be dealt with in an appropriate timescale for those particular people. Mr Speaker, I am concerned about what this motion does to the procedures of this place and to the way in which our system, both in this place and in our general common law regime, might operate.