Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2157 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
I have already spoken to this. Basically it provides protection through legal privilege, without the complications of Assembly privilege, and gives protection from civil action directly to Mr McLeod, the Chief Minister or any persons acting under their direction in preparing or making public the report.
MS DUNDAS(4.32): Mr Speaker, the ACT Democrats will be supporting this amendment, as it removes the report from the Assembly and the Speaker and places it back in the hands of the people who are responsible for the inquiry, namely, the Chief Minister and Mr McLeod. As I said at the in-principle stage, this inquiry in this way has never been the idea of this Assembly; so I think it's right that that is made clear in the legislation.
This amendment provides protection for defamation action taken against protagonists. I have a concern with this amendment, as it does not prescribe that the Chief Minister must give the report to other members on any specific day; so it is possible that the Chief Minister may release the report by media conference and not hand copies to anybody else.
I have contacted Parliamentary Counsel in an attempt to make two amendments to address this concern. However, the drafter was uncontactable and we've run out of time. I have had further discussions with the Chief Minister on this point, and I believe he will now put on the record that he will allow members of the Assembly to have the report as soon as it is available.
If that happens I will therefore support this amendment, but I will unfortunately have to oppose the bill as a whole.
MR STANHOPE(Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for the Environment) (4.33): Ms Dundas did speak to me seeking an assurance that the government would make the McLeod report available when received by the government. Of course that's what this legislative exercise is all about; it's all about ensuring that, when the report is completed and made available to the government, the government has the capacity to make it available to the people of Canberra without delay. That was the purpose of this particular legislative pursuit.
Before I go on, I'm more than happy to give that undertaking, Mr Speaker, and I do so now publicly and on the record that yes, the government will make the report available when we do receive it.
I won't say much more about this particular matter, other than to say that there are, of course, half a dozen approaches we could have taken to achieve the result that it seems we're all seeking to achieve. The government proposed a particular model; I think it's fine. I still don't resile from the model the government proposed; it didn't meet with favour amongst other members; other members had issues or concerns. I have to tell you quite frankly I still need some convincing about the validity or the reality of the concerns.
Be that as it may, I acknowledge that the concerns lie in the breasts of some of us, and