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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4242 ..

MR STANHOPE: As I said, I will seek to gain, for your information, Mrs Cross, and for the information of all members, all the guidelines, protocols and conventions that apply to circumstances in which a decision would be taken to meet the reasonable legal costs of a person who is being sued or who is involved in legal action.

As I said before-and I used the example of defamation-my understanding, which I will have clarified, is that it is not reasonable that the taxpayer should be asked to fund the legal costs of a politician, a public servant or a public official to defend an action other than where the act or omission that is subject to or relevant to a prosecution was quite clearly undertaken or pursued or done or not done consistent with a person's duties or responsibilities in whatever position they hold.

So, no, if a person were drunk and that person were sued for having done some act or omission as a result of having been drunk or intoxicated, then certainly, as far as I am concerned, it takes them well outside the bounds of a circumstance in which they should receive taxpayer funding.

Bill of rights

MRS DUNNE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Attorney-General, Mr Stanhope. I refer the minister to a letter in the Canberra Times of 6 December 2002 from Professor John McMillan of the ANU law faculty about the deliberative poll held recently, and I quote from Professor McMillan's letter:

I nevertheless walked away from the process with a bad taste in my mouth. All the listed speakers on the second day were proponents of a Bill of Rights.

He goes on to say:

The speakers in favour included all four members of the Consultative Committee established by the ACT Government to gauge community opinion. I warned against this appearance of bias in the planning of the deliberative assembly, but the objection was ignored.

Minister, was the second day of the deliberative poll structured so that every speaker on that day supported a bill of rights when the participants of the forum were coming to a conclusion? If so, was this done in order to develop, in Professor McMillan's words, "the laughable myth that this is prompted by some groundswell of community support"?

MR STANHOPE: I am pleased to receive the question. I must say I have been somewhat concerned by and somewhat dismayed at the aspersions that have been cast on the deliberative poll and its organisers, and indeed its integrity.

Deliberations Australia is a company of enormous reputation, and I believe that its reputation has been sullied to some extent by allegations that it in some way distorted the deliberative poll. I have not taken a detailed briefing on this, but my understanding is that Deliberations Australia went to very significant lengths to in fact ensure that there was equality of representation between people that would support and people who would oppose a bill of rights.

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