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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (21 April) . . Page.. 1028 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

talking about making illegal something that in time gone by was legal. We are talking about a very special and significant event. This whole debate is about the 12-month period.

This whole issue has quite a history. I do recall that very shortly after the implosion, if not on the day of the implosion, the Government proposed their own inquiry. I recall that debate went on for a number of weeks over whether that was the proper path to take. Then I believe that was put on hold, and I think it is still on hold at the moment. Then we had the coronial inquest, to which magistrate Shane Madden was appointed. I think we have all been intrigued at many of the things that have come out of that inquiry. Many witnesses have been called. Just as many solicitors and barristers have been at the inquest asking many questions. It has quite clearly gone on for a long time.

I have mentioned in this place my involvement in relation to this legislation. The Attorney-General wrote to me as chair of the Justice Committee in May or April of last year and indicated that the coroner and Mr Madden had raised this issue with him and sought my advice from my own perspective. He also asked me to raise it within the committee. We did that. I will not go over the next few months, because there seem to be differing stories. All of us on the Justice Committee are quite calm about the role that we have played.

Mr Speaker, the issue, to me, is really about the death of that little girl. As some of you may be aware, I ride my bike in to work at least three or four times a week, and I am constantly reminded of the tragedy of the day because I ride past the site of the memorial for Katie Bender. There are not many days that I do not at least give some thought to the events of that day.

It has been interesting to see how the perspective and the intentions of some people have changed in relation to this legislation. I think it would be fair to say that 12 months ago the Government was considering introducing this piece of legislation itself. That was certainly the impression that I got. Here we are 12 months later and they are vehemently opposing it. I think all members will appreciate that there is certainly no right or wrong answer in relation to what we do in relation to this piece of legislation.

I will be supporting the legislation. I have consulted within the legal profession. My initial reaction 12 months ago - and I still feel the same today - was that I felt that it would be a second tragedy if people who had cases to answer were not brought before the courts because the statute of limitation had expired. I have not changed from that initial reaction. It is a special case. As I said earlier, I have approached this as a special issue.

As I said, I am constantly reminded of the issue. I cannot imagine what the family of that little girl has gone through. Being a father myself, I could not imagine coping with the events of that day. I recall on the day, Mr Speaker, considering going there myself. It was only because my wife did not want to that we chose not to. It could have been any one of us sitting in that position. I read an interesting article in the Age a couple of weeks

ago which went over the whole history of this case. Once again, I was moved and felt for the Benders and for the other family members and friends of Katie who have had to live with the tragedy, which is nearly two years old.

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