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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (22 October) . . Page.. 3914 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

raise issues that were current before the Coroners Court, so I was simply repeating my concern to put into context the answer I give.

Going to the point that Mr Stefaniak raises, the opposition raised yesterday an issue around alleged evidence by a witness before the Coroners Court-an allegation that he said something to a member of the ACT government on 14 January. I have not read the transcripts. I am happy to allow the Coroners Court to do its business. It is an extensive and expansive inquiry that is being undertaken. It is being assisted by four or five senior counsel. It is costing the people of the ACT $7 million or $8 million to conduct. I cannot honestly see the sense, the wisdom or the good judgment in pursuing in this place every issue that is being pursued in the Coroners Court.

I am not going to read the transcripts. I am not going to engage in some sort of cross-examination from a distance and from this place of witnesses that are before the Coroners Court in terms of things they may or may not have said and whether what they did say was true. It is a very good point on the dangers of this approach by the Liberal Party that Mr Stefaniak stands up and says-

Mr Stefaniak: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked a specific question. The Chief Minister is going off on a tangent. He is not confining himself to the subject matter of the question, as required under standing order 118. He is talking about another matter entirely which is procedural rather than being specific to the question.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Stefaniak, it has never been the practice in this place or in many other parliaments in recent times for ministers to answer questions in exactly the way in which members want them to be answered. You raised the issue of the coroner's inquiry and you raised the issue of what the Chief Minister said yesterday and, in my view, the Chief Minister is responding to those issues.

MR STANHOPE: I was about to conclude on the issue raised. The issue raised by the opposition yesterday and repeated today is, essentially: Chief Minister, what do you think about evidence that Mr Cheney gave in the Coroners Court to the effect that he had a certain conversation with a member of the ACT government?

I do not even know whether Mr Cheney was cross-examined on the point. I do know that Peter Lucas-Smith is the person with whom, you allege, Mr Cheney is alleged to have said in the Coroners Court that he did have this conversation.

I do not know whether he said it. If he did say it, I do not know whether he was cross-examined on it. I do know that Peter Lucas-Smith has not yet given evidence in the Coroners Court because he has not yet been called. Peter Lucas-Smith has not had an opportunity to be questioned on the issue. He has not had an opportunity to confirm or deny it. Why don't you let the Coroners Court process proceed? Why don't you allow Peter Lucas-Smith to give his evidence on the point?

You have a classic situation here of a determination to deny the processes and to deny natural justice. You refer to an alleged conversation between a witness who has appeared-I do not know whether he has been cross-examined on his evidence-and another person, an ACT government official, who has not yet been called, who has not yet had an opportunity to confirm, deny, rebut or put in context that conversation. That is

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