Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 771 ..
MR KAINE: I do not know. You are talking about criminalising people. They cannot be criminalised if they have not committed an offence which, back a year ago, would have been a criminal offence. Nothing changes what they did then. I do not know whether there are any people out there who are potentially criminals under the Act. The Attorney-General seems pretty certain that there are. If he believes that that is the case, I would be interested in his putting the facts on the table, rather than simply speaking hypothetically. I have great difficulty with the notion that somebody a year ago commits an offence which the Attorney-General thinks is a criminal offence and he allows the period of time for which the indemnity applies to lapse, having done nothing, and now says that if we move in any way to rectify this omission on his part we will be criminalising people. I am afraid, Mr Speaker, I do not follow his logic. I do not follow his logic at all.
Mr Moore: I will explain it again.
MR KAINE: The Attorney-General did a pretty poor job of explaining it and I doubt that you can do any better, Mr Moore. It makes me wonder just why the Attorney-General did nothing if the situation as he now outlines it is, in fact, the case, and he must have known that that was the case six months ago.
Mr Humphries: Because we did not believe that it was right to take away the rights.
MR KAINE: I can only say that my understanding is that the coroner wrote to you and pointed out this position. He must have been worried about it. Why would he have written to you and brought it to your attention if he was not worried about the ramifications of it? But you chose to ignore, on the face of it, a communication from the coroner that brought the matter to your attention and you have given us no justification for doing that, really. I wonder what the coroner's view is today, given the fact that he brought this to your attention and you did nothing.
I think that some of us have good reason to be a little bit suspicious as to what your motives were in not acting at the time and why you now argue the case so vehemently that we have no right to turn the clock back to what it was six months ago. It is a very curious argument that the Attorney-General is mounting. He has said nothing that convinces me of the validity of his position. Whereas I did have an open mind on the matter before, I am coming to the view that perhaps Mr Berry has something in attempting to rectify the Attorney-General's omission. I am prepared to listen to the rest of the debate, but I must say that I am not much reassured by the Government at this point.
MR RUGENDYKE (3.57): Mr Speaker, I have wrestled with these two Bills at great length. From the outset, the inaction of the Attorney-General to the coroner's warnings about the expiry date of the OH&S laws in relation to the hospital implosion inquiry did disturb me. For whatever reason, Mr Humphries did not attempt to fix the problem. He did have time to fix it, but he did not act. On the scale of things, that is not acceptable.