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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 517 ..

MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (11.41): Mr Speaker, the government, as the Chief Minister has outlined, will not be supporting this motion today. Firstly, it is essentially an attempt by Mr Smyth to revisit a debate in which he was unsuccessful a number of weeks ago. Secondly, the opposition has not made the argument for the need for another judicial inquiry.

In all we have heard from opposition members, they quickly skip over the coroner's investigation and inquiry. Why do they skip over it? They know that it fundamentally undermines their case. The coroner's inquiry is a full judicial inquiry, with full protection given to all witnesses, proper cross-examination of witnesses and proper investigation of all of the matters raised under the jurisdiction of the court. It is a full and open inquiry. The coroner has taken the step-unprecedented, to my knowledge-of publicly calling for information and submissions. That is not a normal process for a coroner to undertake. But, given the magnitude of the event and the very high level of public interest in, and knowledge of, what occurred in this fire event, the coroner has chosen to publicly call for information and submissions.

What aspects of this fire investigation will be outside the ambit of the coroner? That is the question that should be asked. What is it that the coroner is not going to investigate that warrants the opposition's call for its own traditional investigation? They have not been able to identify what elements of the coroner's investigation preclude the coroner from looking at matters which should be looked at by Mr Smyth's proposition.

The coroner has the widest possible brief. The coroner has the power to hold public hearings into the fires and the deaths, require witnesses to appear-in fact, compel witnesses to appear-compel production of evidence and documents, call for and cause expert or other relevant reports to be prepared or produced, and make findings or recommendations relevant to the fires and/or the deaths. They are pretty broad terms of reference-in fact, all encompassing. What is it that precludes the coroner from looking at certain aspects that should be within the realm of Mr Smyth's inquiry? The coroner's terms of reference are extremely broad and completely open.

If the opposition does not have confidence in the coroner's investigation, they should simply say so, rather than suggest an additional judicial process. If you do not have confidence in the coroner's work, if you do not have confidence in the process the coroner is undertaking, then say so. But do not slip and slide around the idea that there needs to be another judicial inquiry because there is something the coroner might not look at. You have not made that argument. The opposition have not made the argument as to what it is the coroner will not look at that justifies a second judicial inquiry. That is the issue.

There are a number of other clear difficulties raised by the opposition's approach. The political nature of their approach is demonstrated by the fact that they have two divergent approaches on the notice paper today-the bill from Mr Stefaniak and the motion from Mr Smyth. If they were serious about one or the other, they would be pursuing it with all their energy. But they are trying to have a bit both ways because they want to have their say in this debate.

Another difficulty members should be conscious of is the very real and practical inability for such an inquiry as proposed by Mr Smyth to conclude within the timeframe

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