Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1794 ..
MR QUINLAN: I am talking to all the people over there. This bill is eminently sensible, Bill. I hope that you did not choke too much on that speech you were forced to read on behalf of Mr Smyth, but you could not have believed a word of it and be a lawyer.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to in principle.
Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.
Bill agreed to.
Bushfires-departmental submissions to McLeod inquiry
MS TUCKER (9.01): For two main reasons, I am very concerned about this motion to authorise the publication of documents from the government in regard to the McLeod inquiry. As a member of this Assembly, I am not at all comfortable with being asked to authorise the publication of these documents without having had a chance to look at them. I am aware that, by authorising the publication, we are giving those documents absolute privilege. I take that as a serious responsibility and I want a chance to look at them.
The second point I want to make is that we have had debates in this place about whether submissions to the McLeod inquiry should be given privilege. Motions were put by the opposition which I supported eventually-there were two motions, from memory-asking that there be a board of inquiry so that witnesses would be protected. They were rejected by the government.
We have a situation where particular documents and submissions to that inquiry will be given absolute privilege without our having looked at them and the rest of the submissions from the broader community will not have absolute privilege. I am very uncomfortable with that in terms of the probity of the inquiry process.
For that reason, I am not prepared to support this motion. As I understand it, that raises difficulties. Unfortunately, these documents have been published in that they have been given to people for them to do what they will. I am really concerned that that has happened, but I just think that we have to be very clear in this place that this process is not acceptable, that you do not give a document absolute privilege so lightly. For that reason, I am not able to support this motion.
MS DUNDAS (9.03): Mr Speaker, I also will not be supporting the authorisation of the publication of these documents at this stage. My understanding is that, by being granted absolute privilege, these documents cannot be used in a court of law. It is of concern if we are going to treat the submissions from the government separately from the submissions that are coming through from the public to this inquiry. These submissions