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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (5 May) . . Page.. 1377 ..

Environment and Heritage Budget

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, further to the answer I gave Ms Tucker, I said that the Government does not believe in hypothecation. There is one exception that I forgot about, the fees for Tidbinbilla, and I apologise for that. I have offered Ms Tucker a full briefing on the environment budget to explain where the $800,000 comes from that increases the environment budget this year.


MR BERRY (3.36): I seek leave to move a motion to authorise the publication of the documents presented to the Assembly by Mr Kaine earlier this afternoon.

Leave granted.

MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, I move:

That the copies of the documents relating to the complaint lodged with the Law Society by the Attorney-General relating to remarks made by Mr Collaery which were presented to the Assembly this afternoon by Mr Kaine be authorised for publication.

By way of explanation, I am advised by the Clerk that absolute privilege may not apply in respect of these documents outside of the house. It just seems to me to be prudent in a matter in which many lawyers may well be involved for this motion to be passed as a matter of course. It is a similar motion to the ones passed by committees in respect of evidence which is taken before them.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (3.37): I do not have any particular problem with having these documents on the public record. I am quite happy for what I have said to the Law Society to be available. I have just seen the response from Mr Collaery about the allegations that I have made. He is perfectly entitled to put his point of view forward. I have to make it clear, though, to the house that what is being done here is a device to circumvent the operation of the Legal Practitioners Act. The Legal Practitioners Act contains very specific provisions that prevent the publication of information about the processing of a complaint. Whether that is desirable or not is a matter that is open for debate. To be quite frank with you, I would be quite willing to debate the proposition, that is, to consider supporting the proposition that we should move away from that degree of high protection. Perhaps legal practitioners should not have the degree of secrecy or confidentiality that shrouds complaints made against them. However, that is for another day, because the law at the present time says that these matters, when they are treated as inquiries by the professional conduct board of the Law Society against legal practitioners, are to be strictly confidential.

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