Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1453 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
I mentioned earlier that it took the Minister four months to lay a complaint which was supposed to be serious. How could you regard the complaint as serious? You cannot regard it as serious once you go to the substance of the complaint that is raised. It is a joke. It is based more on personal differences than anything else, I submit. But there is a curious coming together of the planets here. (Extension of time granted) There is a curious convergence of the planets here, because this complaint was lodged a couple of days after that very powerful expose of the hospital implosion which appeared in the Age newspaper. Funny that! Without checking the dates, it happened at a time when debate was occurring in relation to amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act - no, it was earlier. I may be wrong there in relation to those dates, but it certainly happened two days after the expose in the Age newspaper.
Let us go to the occupational health and safety legislation. The Government's new argument in relation to that - and it is a new argument; there is no question about that - is about the retrospective nature of the legislation. They say that the reason they opposed it and will continue to oppose it is that it was outrageous retrospective legislation. There are many legal commentators who differ with the Government. A look at the circumstances there raises more questions than it answers. Let there be no mistake about the timing of this matter. This matter, as was referred to in Mr Collaery's letter, was drawn to the attention of the Attorney-General two months before the time limits ran out. The Attorney-General brazenly came into this place and tried to create the impression that his actions were about retrospective legislation. If he had acted when the matter was drawn to his attention by the coroner, the issue of retrospectivity would not have been one to argue about. This Attorney-General, after fishing around to see if he could get support for movement on this legislation - - -
Mr Moore: There is no point in doing this, Wayne, as the crossbenchers know the truth on this.
MR BERRY: Mr Osborne is aware of the fishing trip. Mr Stanhope is aware of the fishing trip.
Mr Moore: They know how you are misrepresenting this. They have seen the letter. They know the truth.
Mr Hargreaves: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. You made much this morning about preventing interjections. I would ask you to enforce it.
MR SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr Hargreaves. I uphold the point of order. Please continue.
MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, much was made of the suggested retrospective nature of the legislation being why the Government opposed it. This Attorney-General, as I said, fished around to see whether he could get support for changes to the legislation and then, all of a sudden, dropped off it. He lost interest in the issue altogether. That raises a few questions, does it not? Some of the answers might be found in the Attorney-General's comments publicly which were raised in the letters tabled in this place yesterday. Mr Speaker, the Attorney-General's own words damn him. I quote from the transcript which was tabled in this place yesterday: