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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1496 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

and one such is not the opportunity to express an opinion concerning the perceived incompetence or ability of the opponent's legal representatives. It is a clear rule of the Bar Association.

Mr Humphries: I am not a barrister.

MR STANHOPE: But you are the leader of the profession in the ACT. You seem to misunderstand this fundamental problem, Attorney. You are the first law officer. You administer the Legal Practitioners Act. You have a position as Attorney-General which you seem not to accept.

Mr Humphries: I am not bound by the rules of the Bar Association.

MR STANHOPE: No, but you lead the profession, and one would expect that you would apply the same standards as first law officer as the profession applies to its members.

Mr Moore: I raise a point of order under two standing orders. The first one is on relevance. My second point is that Mr Stanhope, in exercising his right of reply, is introducing new material into the debate. On both of those issues, the Bar Association has no relevance whatsoever to this debate. It is just pathetic.

MR SPEAKER: I do not uphold the point of order. There has been a fairly wide-ranging debate.

MR STANHOPE: I am responding directly to the points that the Attorney made. I will conclude with a final comment on the Bar Association rules, because the Attorney obviously does not know or understand them. It is a further rule of the Bar Association that, if a person approaches a barrister to perform some legal duty for him and it is not the work of a barrister, that barrister is not to tell the person that he or she will perform the work if a particular solicitor is instructed in the matter. It is a typically difficult and obtuse rule. This is rule 79 of the Bar Association. It is obvious by inference that a barrister should not and must not approach a person for whom he holds no brief and suggest that a barrister or solicitor briefed should not continue to be so briefed. It is a clear breach of the ethical rules of practice. The profession can regard it as bringing the profession into disrepute.

The point here is that the Attorney is hoist by his own petard. He has referred to the Law Society a complaint about Mr Collaery for bringing the profession into disrepute when the Attorney, as the first law officer, has absolutely no compunction about breaching standard accepted rules of the profession which he must, as the leader of the profession, abide by.

It has been a long debate, Mr Speaker. The issues have been traversed. I think it is quite clearly the case that the Attorney cannot walk out of this place and claim that he has not, by his actions, generated in this community a perception that he has not acted with the clear interest of the administration of justice at heart. He has exhibited a clear bias. He has clearly compromised his position as first law officer and Attorney-General. This Assembly and this community can quite clearly have no confidence in this Minister.

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