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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1482 ..

MR HARGREAVES (3.48): I have sat and listened, with the exception of one comfort stop, to everything that people have said, and I must say that I am quite upset by quite a number of issues. This want-of-confidence motion is the most serious thing that this Assembly can do, and I acknowledge that very sincerely. It is not something that I would prefer to have had, but I have been sufficiently moved by not only the information I saw yesterday but also things I have heard today to think very seriously on it, and I urge members to do that, not to get carried away with some side remarks and some snide remarks also.

The way I see it, there are three issues. One of them is the impact this whole debate has had and continues to have on the Bender family. I for one sincerely regret any discomfort which these proceedings have and will have on that family. They do not need this sort of angst. It is totally inappropriate that they should go through that. That we are forced to have this hanging over our head as we try to dissect the issue is unfortunate, and it is deeply regretted, particularly by me and my colleagues. It is also noteworthy that none of my colleagues have raised their voices in debating this particular issue. They have not screamed across the chamber at people on this issue. I found the power and bluff and bluster of Mr Smyth's response totally inappropriate in this instance.

This motion goes to credibility and it goes to responsibility. It comes down to whether we have enough confidence in this Attorney-General to believe what he says and what he provides to this chamber. Do we have the confidence in this Attorney-General that he will accept the Executive responsibility that ministerial positions carry? The sad part about this - and I will go into this in more detail later - is that at its absolute best there may have been a misunderstanding about whether Ms X, when she met with Mr Bender, represented the Attorney-General.

It saddens me that before this debate was very old the Attorney-General did not come into this chamber and say that he regretted any misunderstanding of that ilk. Instead we saw him get up here and try to defend himself. He put forward smoke and mirrors and went on the attack. I thought to myself that it would have been far more appropriate if he had expressed that regret and apologised to the Bender family on behalf of us all for that misunderstanding. But he did not do it. Instead, he chose to refute the statements made by Mr Bender and to introduce information by way of unsworn statements in such a way that it upset the family enough that Anna Bender has brought forward another sworn statement, a statutory declaration, to support that which Mr Mato Bender has given.

As Mr Wood has said, we have four unsworn statements against two statutory declarations. It would have been quite easy for those unsworn statements to have been statutory declarations. Mr Hird, our Temporary Deputy Speaker, is a justice of the peace. I am sure nobody here would have had the slightest difficulty had he been asked to witness a statutory declaration on this issue. But it was not done, and I believe there is a significance in that.

Mr Humphries: No-one has asked us to do it either. That is a bit unfair.

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Humphries interjects across the chamber saying that nobody asked them to. Mr Humphries is the chief law officer in this place. Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, you and I are merely justices of the peace and prepared to provide that

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