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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1463 ..

MR QUINLAN: I do not want to take too much more time, only to say that during his speech Mr Humphries said, "What would be wrong with me giving advice?". From my perspective, from my admittedly limited understanding of legal ethics and procedure, I would answer that with: "Plenty". I cannot conceive of a position, or accept a position, where the Attorney, knowing full well of the involvement and potential involvement of the Government in this case, would do anything other than refer that question to an independent adviser such as the Law Society.

I commend to the Assembly the case that has been well made by Mr Stanhope.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Before I call on Ms Tucker, I would like to recognise the presence in the gallery of a group from the University of the Third Age. I welcome you to your Assembly.

MS TUCKER (2.41): This debate today is about whether or not Mr Humphries has confused his responsibilities as first law officer with his political position and whether he should continue to be the Attorney-General. Mr Humphries claimed today it was bizarre that people were concerned about conspiracy. Maybe from Mr Humphries' point of view it is bizarre, but that may be because he does not understand how shaky the confidence is of many people in the community in this Government and its processes. Mr Humphries may not be aware of the fact that my office and no doubt other members' offices certainly have this message communicated to them regularly.

Let us look first at the broad picture. First of all, we have the implosion itself, an event which was not only tragic and upset, I suggest, everybody in Canberra but also for many people the beginning of a real concern about the processes of this Government. We have had a number of significant debates in this house where confidence has been further undermined. We had the debate here recently about the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Dangerous Goods Act, when it became clear that Mr Humphries again had not communicated to the whole Assembly the fact that there was an issue about the time limit for people who were involved in the inquest. He decided by himself, forgetting that he was the minority government, I suggest; that it was not appropriate. When the rest of the Assembly members became aware of this - and I was certainly in this position - I believed that it was totally inappropriate, and we had a debate here where basically that was overruled. That is not good for confidence in this Government. In fact, it looked like the Government failed seriously in an issue that was very much at the heart of whether or not justice would be seen to be done in regard to the implosion.

It is interesting, of course, to note too that during that debate Mr Humphries was very concerned about who would suffer as a result of that legislation being passed. I remember him clearly with his hand on his heart speaking of the workers whose lives might be destroyed by us passing that legislation, obviously pre-empting, as he has accused Mr Collaery of doing, the results of the inquest. He was obviously implying that there was criminality if we in this place had to be held responsible for causing these people's lives to be ruined by actually making them have to be subject to the law because we resurrected liability through that legislation.

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