Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (27 June) . . Page.. 2321 ..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
involved in this industry have been connected with drugs and with illegal activities was not substantiated by evidence given to the committee. If in part I am responsible for the pain and suffering that these families have gone through, then I apologise publicly to them. People who know they have been a party to this and do not wish to join that apology can wear it at the proper time when they meet their maker.
Those people engaged in the industry who feel that their reputation has been besmirched have access to the courts to seek redress for defamation. The concrete evidence given to me in the course of the inquiry does not substantiate claims of any particular proprietor in the fireworks industry being connected with any illegal enterprise. There has been some hearsay association, and there has been some suggestion that there is a coincidence, but there was no direct evidence that any person in the fireworks industry in the ACT has engaged in illegal enterprises in association with Rebels or Gypsy Joker types of gangs. I want to underscore that for the benefit of their families. I would hope there was no intention to harm those people. It is a regrettable that these sorts of things emerged as part of the inquiry.
We have to understand that there are three parts to this. One of them addresses the use of fireworks for illegal activities. I do not mean bikie gang stuff. I mean the break and enter at Vic and Ric's shop. These people did not know what they were doing. Had they done it the other way around, they would not have blown up Vic and Ric's shop. They would have blown their own heads off.
We need to change the act and the regulations supporting it. If the litany of litigation is half-right, if Mr Upton's list is correct, or if the DPP's list is correct-it matters not-the list is too long. There needs to be clarity in the legislation. There needs to be a level playing field where everybody knows what they are doing.
Mr Upton knows everything about it. Mr Davey is a walking expert on it. I am sure he can quote you chapter and verse in his sleep, although as an insomniac he probably does not get much. The legislation needs to be clarified for the average person in the street, not just the experts in the game.
I think I have said enough. I have made my position quite clear, and I hope I have made my position publicly known to people in the industry and their families.
MS TUCKER (11.38): The report speaks for itself, but I would like to make a couple of comments, firstly on some of the process issues that we had to deal with in this committee inquiry. Not authorising some submissions for publication is something the committee and I regarded as serious. I took the decision seriously. We got legal advice and the Clerk's advice on the proper thing to do in that situation. A couple of submissions named persons and it was seen to be procedurally fair to allow certain other things to happen. We are still dealing with that issue. It has not been resolved.
I want to put it on the record that it is my view that, if it is at all possible, evidence should be made public. Whatever happens in an inquiry by a committee of an Assembly or a parliament should, as much as possible, be public and open. That would be a fundamental requirement for a democratic system to work in a way which would inspire confidence in the community, I should think. If a citizen cannot come to an inquiry of an Assembly or a parliament with concerns and know that they will be