Page 133 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 8 December 2004

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This is a very important matter. It is a matter that relates to the position of the Attorney-General and whether he has gone beyond or against his role in relation to that; it relates to what appears to be an unprecedented act in Australia in respect of the Attorney-General intervening in these particular proceedings. In so doing, it raises issues in relation to the separation of powers, the proper role of the Attorney-General, the independence of the judiciary and the integrity of the judiciary. It thinks that it is crucially important that this debate continues.

It is of great concern also in the public interest, in that we are not talking about some minor matter; we are talking about a matter that has already cost the ACT government a lot of money, where there are obviously delays as a result; so there are fiscal issues in relation to this as well. By the attorney intervening, there would be further costs incurred. These are fundamental points in respect of our democracy: the separation of powers and the role of the attorney are crucially important. His role should not be just that of a government minister and a minister to look after the government’s interests in accordance with the law. That is why this debate is most important.

Mr Stanhope: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: the shadow Attorney-General is debating the substance of the motion; he is not actually debating a suspension of standing orders.

MR SPEAKER: You had better connect this to the need for a suspension of standing orders.

MR STEFANIAK: I think those points, Mr Speaker, relate very much to the need to suspend standing orders. I appreciate your position, your concern to ensure that matters that are sub judice are left out of the debate. We have already had, as a result of that, probably half of the debate interrupted by argument in relation to that. For that reason, I think it is important that I be allowed to finish my speech because we have only got about half of it done simply because half the time has been taken up. That is because it is so important. This is an important issue, it is something that cannot be done in five minutes, and I would request that you allow this matter to continue.

MR SPEAKER: It is not my jurisdiction; it is a matter for the Assembly.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (11.00): Mr Speaker, it is impossible on some occasions to put a full case in 10, 15 or 20 minutes, depending on the time allowed to a speaker to make the points that are involved, and in particularly complex issues, and complex issues of law, it is nigh on impossible.

Ms MacDonald: It is because you lack discipline.

MR SMYTH: Ms MacDonald interjects, “You’ve got to be more disciplined.” Well, sometimes somebody has got to follow through on a case that sets the basis for where the argument is going.

We were told in the lead-up to the election—and I think there was a Canberra Times editorial about it on Saturday, 16 October—that people should not be afraid of a majority government, that nothing would change. It has been the tradition of this place for 15

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