Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (30 June) . . Page.. 1903 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (10.35): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I confess that I do not have a great familiarity with much of the details of the issues that the dragway is currently litigating in the ACT Supreme Court, but I do want to sound a very serious warning to members about the sub judice rule.
Mr Berry: We want to tell the Government how it should argue the case.
MR HUMPHRIES: Okay, Mr Berry. You want to tell the Government how it should argue the case. The problem is that to engage in the debate - - -
Mr Wood: If you only realised nobody paid any attention to it.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I don't - - -
MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Well, it would help. I know it is getting late, Mr Attorney, but if you did not canvass questions across the chamber - that applies to both sides - and addressed your remarks to the Chair, we might get on with the business. The Attorney-General has the call.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, there is a matter in the ACT Supreme Court at the moment in which the Government is a party. For the Government to enter into debate on the matters that are, as I understand it, part of this motion would involve the ACT putting on the table issues which will be part of the matter to be litigated before the Supreme Court. I can advise the Assembly that the ACT Government Solicitor has advised that we should be circumspect about any comments that we make in the course of this debate about those matters.
The Government is in a difficult position. There is a motion before the house which suggests that the Government should do certain things, and condemns the Government supposedly for a failure to fulfil its responsibilities under the lease arrangements, such as to set rent and other conditions. To properly defend that matter involves putting on the table issues which will be litigated in the court.
Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, that constitutes the classic illustration of where matters should not be before the Assembly when they are sub judice, when the debating of issues here could involve the raising and assessing of issues which are themselves going to be put before a court. In a civil matter, this is about as close as it gets to what should not be debated on the floor of a parliament while the matter is before another arm of government, namely, before a court. Although, as I say, I do not know a great deal about the - - -
Mr Moore: The age-old precedent that we were talking about today.
MR HUMPHRIES: Indeed. To quote an earlier remark today, this is "an age-old precedent". Sub judice is a very important principle and this is an illustration of when it should apply. I would say to members that I do not think we should be debating this matter at all, to be perfectly frank, but if Mr Corbell wants to debate it today I do not think he should put the Government to the test of having to debate the issues which are in the clauses which Mr Smyth wants to delete. Rather, we should leave those for debate