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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1494 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

In terms of misconduct, you could ask about exercising judgment in these matters. Did I exercise the right judgment in criticising a lawyer who was involved in the Bender inquest, who acted for the Bender family? That is not the bar that we have set in this place before in those sorts of matters. Even if - and I hope Ms Tucker does not misconstrue this - it were the case that I made an error of judgment in doing so, and I certainly deny that I did make an error of judgment, has that ever been a ground for a want of confidence in a Minister in this place; for sacking a Minister?

Even when Mr Berry caused the Territory to lose $4m because of the VITAB affair, he was not dismissed from his office on that ground. He had a want-of-confidence motion moved in him on the basis of knowingly misleading the Assembly, not on the basis that he had flushed $4m down the drain. If you do not get sacked on the basis of four million bucks going down the drain, then why is it that I should face a penalty for something much less? Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I simply say that members should not see that this onus has been discharged, because it has not.

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The Attorney-General's time has expired.

MR OSBORNE: I seek leave to make another statement, a very short one.

Leave granted.

MR OSBORNE: I feel it important that I speak in relation to point 6 of the statutory declaration by Ms Anna Bender. It says:

We fully support Bernard Collaery and cannot understand why Mr Osborne does not believe us.

As you will be aware, at no stage did I say in this place that I did not believe Mr Bender. I need to make that point very clear. The point in the debate that is important is whether or not Ms X approached the family on behalf of the Attorney-General. I said that the evidence presented today showed quite clearly that she did not. That is the issue. What has become very clear to me is that a staff member in this building is lying to the Bender family and he should hang his head in shame. I want to reiterate that I never said anything of the sort and hope that the flea who is supplying information to the family hands them a copy of Hansard.

Mr Humphries: Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I table a statutory declaration by Ms X.

MR STANHOPE (4.42), in reply: As I said at the outset, this motion goes to one of the central tenets of our legal system. The law must be applied and executed without fear, favour or prejudice. I also described the role of the Attorney-General and the requirement for him to be seen to be completely and absolutely rigorous and objective in the discharge of his responsibilities as the first law officer of the ACT. It is imperative that there be a well-founded and grounded perception in the community that the Attorney is acting in such a manner.

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