Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1798 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
here and say, "We want this."You come in here and make a case by saying, "They deserve privilege for these reasons."
No case has been made for the attachment of privilege. We get the standard personal attack from Mr Quinlan, who says, "You are doing this out of malice."No, I am doing it out of fairness and equity, which are probably principles that, from what you are saying, you do not understand.
Mr Quinlan: I know where you're coming from, little man.
MR SMYTH: Where were you on the lot? I know where I was; I was on the fire line putting out fires. I have an interest in this matter; I was there. What we do not have here is a case to extend privilege to these documents. It is not malice at all, Mr Speaker.
MS TUCKER (9.14): I seek leave to speak again.
MS TUCKER: I do not know what the government is doing here and I am interested in looking again at the Bushfire Inquiry (Protection of Statements) Act which we passed. In relation to the protection of statements to the inquiry, the act says:
It is a defence to an action for defamation in relation to the making of a statement to the inquiry, or the giving of a document or information to the inquiry, if the defendant establishes that the defendant made the statement to the inquiry, or gave the document or information to the inquiry.
I am wondering why these documents are not covered anyway.
Mr Quinlan: Maybe.
MS TUCKER: The government says, "Maybe."I just think that this is really unsatisfactory. I just want to say again that I am not prepared to be authorising these documents for publication. It seems that they may be covered anyway. It seems like the government really needs to go back and look at what it is doing here.
MR STEFANIAK (9.15): Ms Tucker may have a point there. I have just been briefed on this matter. There has been a lot of running around on it. A couple of valid points have been raised. Firstly, I would like to hear why the government wants to make this one a special case.
Mr Smyth has mentioned that there has not been an occurrence like this before. I cannot recall one. I recall the odd individual document having privilege, and I see the Clerk nodding, but I cannot recall anything like this one for a big wad of documents and not all the documents for the inquiry.
I could understand this situation better if government agency documents and documents from other witnesses who were not part of government agencies were all in one big bundle and the government came in and said, "Here are all the submissions,"and established the need for them to be given privilege. Mr Smyth is nodding; we would