Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1452 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
credibility outside of this place, especially the first law officer in the ACT. He might have his opinions about these matters, but as first law officer it is most important that he keep them to himself.
If the first law officer were to complain about a particular lawyer in the town, you would think there would be at least some substance to the allegations. Let us look at them. Mr Humphries relies upon two issues. One is the following quote in the Canberra Times:
... I am concerned that a Government which is clearly likely to be a defendant in civil proceedings arising out of the implosion should limit the capacity of persons who suffered either physical injury and/or psychological injury on 13 July 1997 to recover compensation ...
There must be more to that quote as it appears that it is selectively quoted. What is wrong with that from a lawyer who represents a family which might be affected by these proceedings? I cannot see anything wrong with it. You might not like the way that Mr Collaery conducts his business, but I cannot see how that is reprehensible. I cannot see how that is reprehensible and I cannot see why you would raise it. That is thin. The next one is even thinner. Mr Humphries referred to a quote from, it appears, the audio of a Ten Capital News broadcast about bringing in certain legislation. He said:
... Mr Collaery was again quoted, this time on Ten Capital News (underlining my emphasis):
"... here we have got a Government, and this is on the record, which has drafted legislation to bomb the hospital which is documented now bringing in legislation to deprive the Bender family, in effect, from the solace of a lump sum payment so they can plan and get on with their lives ..."
Colourful language and provocative indeed, but hardly a hanging offence. I say that this complaint to the Law Society had ill intent. It was about undermining the effectiveness of the Bender family's representation - let us bring the Bender family back into focus again - in those proceedings and in any other proceedings which might happen at a later point.
Mr Speaker, throughout these proceedings today we have had this Minister, the Attorney-General, scoffing at the qualifications of a lawyer who operates a business in this Territory. The Attorney-General, the first law officer, has been scoffing at and ridiculing this law officer in this place. I say that that, and any other involvement by the Attorney-General in these matters, has been as a result of that long-running feud between these men. I would hate to see this feud result in an undermining of the Bender family's representation in either present proceedings or later proceedings should they arise. No, Mr Speaker, these are not the actions of a responsible first law officer. I think today's performance by the Attorney-General is an indication that he is going to continue with this feud and this bitterness. But he should not be permitted to do it as the first law officer of this place. That is why this motion should succeed.