Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 3287 ..
MR HUMPHRIES: Okay, your argument is that I did nothing. When the Assembly came to act as it did, it had to retrospectively reimpose those. The coroner did not ask for that. The coroner simply drew attention to the fact that the period of the capacity to launch any prosecutions was running towards its end. That is the only issue you raised. You did not ask the Assembly to legislate retrospectively. If the Assembly chooses, as Mr Berry does, to blame the Government or the Attorney-General for the fact that it was not done before the limitation period expired, it is, frankly, poor form to blame the coroner for a decision that Mr Berry and some of his colleagues made to legislate retrospectively in this place.
The second point I raise, Mr Speaker, is that if Mr Berry felt that the retrospectivity of this legislation earlier this year - - -
Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, I think the insinuation was that I blamed the coroner for this. I have been busy blaming the Government, but I did not blame the coroner.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I argue that that is exactly what he has done now; he has said that the coroner's request was - - -
MR SPEAKER: This is a very esoteric debate between you two gentlemen.
Mr Berry: Thank you, Mr Speaker.
MR SPEAKER: I am wondering whether you should go outside and have it.
Mr Berry: No, you are not allowed to do that any more.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Humphries.
MR HUMPHRIES: I can understand Mr Berry's embarrassment here and why he would like to change the subject, but the fact is that the coroner was not responsible for the decision that the Assembly made to retrospectively recriminalise the acts of individuals associated with a particularly tragic incident in 1997. It was the Government's decision that that retrospectivity should not be adopted and the Assembly's view was other than that. That is fine, Mr Speaker, but where is the consistency?
Let me put this question to Mr Berry or, rhetorically, to the Assembly. If the coroner's expressing of a view before the matter was retrospective in nature was the critical element that justified the Assembly retrospectively taking away people's rights, why did not Mr Berry or any of the other members of the Labor Party, or any other supporters of this legislation, actually say that when it was going through the Assembly? None of the members of this place argued that that was the critical element for having retrospective legislation.