Page 142 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 8 December 2004

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trammel, those very same principles by commenting on matters before, at this stage, the Supreme Court.

This is essentially no different from any other appeal or any other matter that the territory in one guise or another engages in from time to time. It is exactly the same, and Mr Stefaniak was getting to this. The Attorney-General, as first law officer, has a range of responsibilities. The position of attorney is interesting. It is slightly different from the role of any other minister. There is, to some extent, a role for an Attorney-General, as first law officer, over and above his role as a politician. I exercise decisions, as does every other attorney. It has always been the case here and it has always been accepted here. When Mr Smyth went to Mr Humphries and asked Mr Humphries to ensure that he was represented in relation to the Defamation Act, it was exactly the same. The position is the same. Was there a conflict of interest there?

Mrs Dunne: On a point of order, Mr Speaker—

Mr Smyth: It was debated in this place. Bill Wood came in and talked about it in this place.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mrs Dunne has a point of order.

Mrs Dunne: The question before the chair is dissent from your ruling about conflict of interest in a matter before the coroner and before the Supreme Court. Mr Stanhope, in a sort of base, political attempt to smear people, is bringing in extraneous matters that do not relate directly to the questions.

MR SPEAKER: Do not enter into a debate about the issue. I understand the point of order. Resume your seat. Stick to the subject matter of the motion, please, Chief Minister.

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker, I will. It is the subject matter and it is very pertinent. It is around the various roles that an Attorney-General is required to perform as attorney, where at times the attorney is presented with issues that might, in a political context, be seen as nothing but a political decision. There is a perfect illustration of a situation in which attorneys find themselves repeatedly: the need to make decisions where they must separate their role as attorney or first law officer from their role as a politician or as a member of a particular political party. There is no more stark illustration of the dual role of an attorney as a first law officer than when a member of his own party, of his own government or his own cabinet comes to him and says, “I am embroiled in a legal action.”

MR SPEAKER: How is that connected with the dissent motion?

MR STANHOPE: Because we are talking about the issue of the so-called conflict of interest, the dual roles of an attorney.

Mrs Dunne: Save that for the other debate.

MR STANHOPE: I certainly will save it, and I think we will revisit it.

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