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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (13 February) . . Page.. 37 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

the Commissioner for Revenue, who is delegated. That person is acting in that position at the moment, but I will get that information to Mr Quinlan and take it on notice.

MR QUINLAN: A supplementary question which may not have to be taken on notice is this: was the Treasurer's approval given to that particular act-of-grace payment, which was $100,000 plus about $60,000-odd in expenses?

Mr Humphries: When was this?

MR QUINLAN: This was made last year to Deutsche Bank in relation to the aborted financial arrangements for Bruce Stadium. I think we were paying Deutsche Bank to talk to the Commonwealth Bank, us being unable to talk to the Commonwealth Bank ourselves, somehow.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I hesitate to categorically say yes or no to that question because I have to say that I do not recall it, but it is quite possible that it is among the very large number of papers which come across my desk on a daily basis. Again, I will take that question on notice and inform the house of my answer.

Canberra Hospital implosion-inquiry

MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Chief Minister. In the aftermath of the tragic Canberra Hospital implosion on Sunday, 13 July 1997, the government which you now lead appointed Major General Neville Smethurst to conduct a detailed investigation under the Inquiries Act into the circumstances which led to the death of Katie Bender and the injury of several other members of the public who had the misfortune to be present on that tragic day.

But then, about a month after this powerful investigative process was constituted, the Chief Minister's Office announced that, in view of reservations expressed by the Chief Coroner about possible conflict with the inquest into Katie Bender's death, the Smethurst inquiry would go into recess while the issue of criminal charges was resolved. Chief Minister, in view of the recent announcement by the Director of Public Prosecutions that criminal charges brought against certain individuals arising out of the Bender inquest are to be dropped, will you now inform this Assembly of the current status of the Smethurst inquiry?

MR HUMPHRIES: Thank you, Mr Kaine, for that question. As members will recall, there were two attempts at that time to set up inquiries under the Inquiries Act, one led Mr Tanzer and the other by Major General Smethurst. I have to say that it is my view that the issues that the coroner covered in his report on the death of Katie Bender were comprehensively dealt with by the coroner in that process.

Members will be aware that that process lasted a very long period of time. It was one of the longest, if not the longest, coronial processes that have ever been undertaken in the ACT. The report was very thick and it resulted in a number of administrative changes being made and, indeed, it resulted in a very fierce debate in this house, among other things.

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