Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (17 February) . . Page.. 216 ..
MR KAINE: I am addressing my question to the Attorney-General. Perhaps he would like to chuck it to the Minister for Health, as the Chief Minister did yesterday.
MR SPEAKER: I uphold your comments, Mr Kaine.
MR KAINE: The worst thing in this extraordinary news report is that Mr Refshauge was quoted as going on to say that while a trial of a heroin self-injecting room ideally should enjoy bipartisan and broad community support before it was approved "it was worth going ahead without it". Minister, as the Attorney-General of this Territory, do you regard it as appropriate for the chief government prosecutor, a senior public servant, to make such political and public statements on a matter that is highly charged and currently a matter of political debate? Will you instruct the Director of Public Prosecutions to cease forthwith making such public political statements which in effect support the establishment of a government controlled facility to be used to facilitate serious breaches of the law?
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Kaine has raised an issue which I think deserves serious consideration. The fact is that we have a range of issues which from time to time senior members of independent statutory authorities such as the DPP may be asked to comment on. I think it is very hard to formulate any hard and fast rules about the application of judgment in those circumstances where a comment is sought to be made. I saw the article Mr Kaine referred to about the DPP commenting on the proposed safe injecting rooms. I am aware that a large number of people were asked to make comments of various sorts in a number of contexts, including the forum that was held last Tuesday at the Canberra Theatre or the Playhouse.
Mr Moore: It was in that context that he originally made the comments.
MR HUMPHRIES: Indeed, I am reminded that it was in that particular context that he made his original comments. I know that the Assistant Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police also made comments, the acting Chief Health Officer also spoke at that meeting, and a number of other people in various positions have made comments. I am not sure to what extent the comments that Mr Refshauge made touched on his role as the Director of Public Prosecutions, but I am aware that he certainly spoke at that meeting and to the Canberra Times - - -
Mr Moore: He was not at the meeting. He wrote a letter.
MR HUMPHRIES: I am sorry, he was not at that meeting, but he spoke at least to the Canberra Times in the context of his chairmanship of the Sexual Health and Blood Borne Diseases Advisory Committee, SHABBDAC.
Mr Refshauge has a long history of involvement in issues to do with drug abuse and regulation or policy affecting this particular area. I would consider it surprising if he abandoned his interests in those areas on becoming Director of Public Prosecutions. He has retained his role as chair of that committee, as he has retained his role as chair of the ACT Cultural Council. I would expect that he would make statements in both those