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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (14 February) . . Page.. 128 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

question of the capacity to hear the evidence of people unimpeded; and the receiving of advice from advisers or others in the course of the inquiry.

I have no doubt that Mr Gallop has that capacity and I want to put on record in this place the government's strong endorsement of Mr Gallop's approach and the belief that he should be allowed, without intervention by members of this Assembly who can stand in this place and make accusations without having to account for them, to proceed with his inquiry without those sorts of impediments in the way. I think that it is improper to comment on such matters in the way that it has been done in here.

Mr Speaker, the adviser to whom Ms Tucker refers has been seconded to assist the board in its inquiry. Incidentally, I have a reply to Ms Tucker which I have recently signed or on which I am seeking some further information and advice. I will quote from the draft reply, Mr Speaker. My reply adds:

... I do not believe that your concern on this aspect of natural justice is reasonably founded.

The person you have named:

is able to distinguish between his current and previous roles.

That is, in ACT Housing. I continue:

He and other staff members' experiences are more than sufficiently remote from the terms of reference...

to prevent any conflict of interest. There is not merit in seeking to have him separated from the inquiry, particularly given the great experience that Mr Gallop and Mr Nash bring to this inquiry. They are both very experienced lawyers and they are more than capable of filtering any question of advice coming to them from the gentleman concerned and they have, I understand, welcomed the participation of this gentleman on the basis that his experience and background in the area concerned are an asset to the board of inquiry.

MR SPEAKER: Do you have a supplementary question, Ms Tucker?

MS TUCKER: Yes, thank you. That is total nonsense. I am trying to improve the credibility of the inquiry with the concerns I have been raising, representing the community.

MR SPEAKER: Ask your supplementary question.

MS TUCKER: My supplementary question is: given that there is no-one on the team with expertise in the field of disabilities and that the inquiry itself is being conducted in a very legalistic environment, will the government now commit to pay for legal representation of the members of the community who wish to make a submission to the inquiry, bearing in mind that they may find themselves subject to cross-examination by the barrister representing the department?

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