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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 3597 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

While we welcome the Government's announcement of an inquiry to improve the procedures, it is hardly reassuring when we know the approach of this Chief Minister stays the same. The public's confidence that the Government is competently looking after the ACT people's best interest must be restored. (Extension of time granted) I believe that the only way for this to occur is for Mrs Carnell to be no longer Chief Minister.

MR HUMPHRIES (Treasurer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Community Safety) (3.12): Mr Speaker, let me start by making some comments about what I think is the inappropriateness of this motion today. I have heard a number of comments made which I think it would be fair to characterise as exercises in the apportionment of blame with respect to responsibility for the death of Katie Bender.

Mr Speaker, I hardly have to remind any members of the house that there are two trials pending of two individuals who were expressly named in the inquest as bearing a certain significant degree of blame. The coroner's view was that there was a prima facie case that they bore a significant degree of blame for the death of Katie Bender, and the finding on that subject is translating into trials in the Supreme Court of those people on those matters; yet today we have heard very strong statements of blame lying elsewhere.

I ask members to consider what use might be made of such statements by a defendant in one of those trials who might seek to find anybody else to attribute blame to. I simply make this point, Mr Speaker: The decision of the coroner was to decide where blame lay. That was his job. Read the beginning of the inquest. It was his job to apportion that blame and he did so, and he put in train processes to determine whether that blame is as he determined it should be. He very expressly indicated areas where he considered blame should not lie, and the Chief Minister in particular was referred to in that context. Mr Speaker, I particularly bring to members' attention the danger that we are debating today some of the same issues that will be before the court when those trials commence, and that may be unfortunate.

It is also inappropriate, I would submit, for this motion to be debated for purely political reasons. Mr Stanhope quoted the Canberra Times in his remarks. I would also adopt the views of the Canberra Times with respect to the bad timing of this matter and the way in which it has produced the sense of deja vu with respect to the use of motions of no confidence. I quote from the editorial on 17 November:

... by choosing the mechanism of a motion of no confidence in Chief Minister Kate Carnell - - -

Mr Berry: Rubbish.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, we have heard members of the Opposition in silence in this debate.

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