Page 152 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 8 December 2004

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is going to sound far less hollow. Imagine the position, firstly, of the individual who initiated this appeal that they genuinely feel that they are not getting a fair shake.

It just seems to me to be crazy for the Leader of the Opposition, or for the opposition as a whole, to put forward the thesis that it is okay for the individuals to appeal against bias because they may be affected, but it is not okay for the Attorney-General to step in and say, “I have a responsibility for the administration of justice, but I will stay out of it because I happen to have been a witness.” I have not been a witness before the coronial inquest. I am part of this government and I would expect this government, like the individual, to get a fair shake.

If there is a genuine belief that there is bias and if that has been supported by analysis by an eminent jurist, which it has, why wait and say, “We will still let it all happen. We will watch this very public inquest. We will watch the sensationalisation of some of the evidence. We will witness within this Assembly the very grubby process of trying to break into it.”?

I wish that I could believe that the opposition was motivated by the high-minded concerns that they put forward here. But one can tell by the level of questioning that has gone on over the last couple of years, right down questions about where the Chief Minister was on the Friday night, as if that somehow made a difference to the intensity of the firestorm, that it has been a totally political exercise on the part of the opposition.

As I said, I am not that familiar with the detail of how the law operates, so I will try to be careful, but let me say that if the government perceives, if the Attorney-General perceives, that there is at least validity in this appeal and there are individuals also involved, what would be the atmospherics, what would be the conclusion drawn from the government not supporting that appeal?

That would be not to support the rights of those individuals who went to the extent through their legal advisers of having the proceedings examined by an eminent jurist. This appeal is not based on the whim of the individuals and it is not based on the whim of the Attorney-General. This appeal is based on analysis by an eminent jurist. Once that opinion that there may be a case was available to the Attorney-General, who was in the unfortunate position, if you like, of having a number of hats to wear, as we do in a very small jurisdiction, I do not think he had a lot of choice in the action that he would need to take in his role as Attorney-General. I know that it was not taken hastily. It was an action not taken with alacrity; quite the reverse.

Yes, there are political overtones to this matter, but let me ask: over the past 18 months, from where have the political overtones emanated? How straight a bat has the Attorney-General played under questioning? How has he played that down? Last year, he tried week in, week out to stay away from the proceedings of the coronial inquest while that lot over there, Mr Speaker, was trying to beat them up at every opportunity. This is a muckraking political beat-up; that is what it boils down to.

If the opposition is so concerned about justice, why not wait for the full process to occur? I do not know what the outcome of the whole exercise is going to be. From time to time, the law has been described as an ass. I would say that, at least, the law is a lottery. What are you afraid of? Why don’t you just let the appeal go through? If there is huge political

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