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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1495 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

I believe, and the Opposition believes, that because of the revelations made yesterday and again here today, and added to here in the chamber in the speeches of the Attorney, there is not and cannot possibly be a perception in this community that this Attorney-General satisfies those criteria. There simply cannot be a perception that this Attorney-General has acted in this matter at arm's length. It is simply not possible for such a perception to be abroad within this community.

The conduct of the Attorney, his patent antipathy expressed today towards Mr Collaery, his actions in referring to the Law Society the spurious complaint which he did lodge, the delay in the lodging of that complaint, and the visit by members of Mr Humphries' office to the Bender family - - -

Mr Moore: Sit down. You are making it worse.

MR STANHOPE: I accept Mr Humphries' attempts to distance himself from the actions of his staff, and I accept what he is saying about that - that perhaps he did not know. But the Attorney cannot so easily, in this place, in this debate, rewrite every accepted notion on conventions relating to ministerial responsibility. I invite the Attorney and Mr Moore, who constantly interjects in this debate - - -

Mr Moore: Just on you now.

MR STANHOPE: No, constantly, Mr Moore.

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: Interjections are highly disorderly.

MR STANHOPE: They are, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker. You really must address some of your opprobrium to the Minister for Health. The Minister cannot so easily rewrite those notions of ministerial responsibility. He simply cannot do it and expect us to accept them. It just cannot be done. It has been a long debate today. I think all the issues have been traversed. I will not go over them all again. I will comment, however, on just one matter that I did not touch on in my comments this morning. It goes to the concluding remarks of the Attorney in terms of his understanding of his capacity, as Attorney to make known to people within the community engaged in a matter, to advise them, if he so wishes, of his views of their counsel.

It is relevant to acknowledge that the Attorney-General, the first law officer of this Territory, the Minister who administers the Legal Practitioners Act, has to be taken to be bound by the same ethical considerations as other lawyers in the Territory. The Attorney leads the profession in Canberra. That is one of his responsibilities as Attorney-General and first law officer. He leads the profession. He not only leads the profession; he administers the Legal Practitioners Act. It has a whole range of rules which spin off into the Law Society and rules governing the conduct of solicitors and the Bar Association and the rules that relate to the conduct of barristers. The Bar Association of the Territory, in keeping with other bodies such as the Law Society, has rules governing members' conduct. There are stringent rules about conduct and stringent rules about the contact between barristers and the party opposed to their client. In essence, it is forbidden under the rules of the Bar Association, except in exceptional circumstances -

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