Page 153 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 8 December 2004
mileage to be gained, let all the judgments be made. Let the Supreme Court address the appeal. Should it be dismissed, let the coronial inquest continue and, if you think after all that that you can squeeze political mileage out of the coroner’s report, then do so.
Why go before the event? What are you trying to influence by bringing up this matter? Why have you been, for the last year and a half, trying to run through this place, under the protection of this place, a parallel inquest, which is what we have seen? Why not wait? Are you concerned, in fact, that the appeal may be vindicated? If you are concerned about justice and the process, let the entire process take place. Let the Supreme Court make its evaluation—as I said, we do not know what it will be—and then let the coronial inquest continue or be picked up in another way, by another coroner if needs be, but let that happen and then go for it, if you must, if you want to make politics out of it.
I would think that that would be a reasonable thing to do politically when the report comes out. But what is grubby is this continued creation of a parallel inquest, of trying to feed concepts and ideas into the process or into the public mind.
Mr Speaker, I believe that the Attorney-General has acted in the only possible way that he could in the circumstances. As we have said, they have been described as unprecedented and extraordinary. Certainly, those concepts were appreciated before the decision was taken. However, as I said, the appeal is based on analysis by an eminent jurist—not on the whim of the Attorney-General, not on the whim of the solicitors of the nine individuals, but on expert opinion.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (12.22): Mr Speaker, the question before the Assembly today is that the Attorney-General instruct lawyers representing the Attorney-General and the ACT government to discontinue the appeal against the coroner in the Supreme Court. The question is whether the ACT should be a party to that appeal. Mr Quinlan and Dr Foskey need to listen to this very carefully. The question is not about stopping the action before the Supreme Court. Nothing that we do in this place, nor would we choose to do it if we could, could stop that.
There are nine individual citizens of the ACT who have taken it to the Supreme Court, as is their right. The issue before us today, which Dr Foskey does not seem to have grasped and Mr Quinlan chooses not to grasp because it is inconvenient for him, is whether it is appropriate for the Attorney-General to join in that matter. The question is whether it is appropriate for the Attorney-General to be a party to this matter.
It will be said today—I am sure that it will have to be said ad nauseam—that this is not a matter about the rights of nine citizens. It is a matter about the appropriateness, Dr Foskey, of the Attorney-General’s actions.
Mr Speaker, my colleagues have spoken about the role of the Attorney-General and about how the Attorney-General is never above the law, but how he needs, in his role as Attorney-General, to be above politics, above self-interest. The Westminster system is predicated upon that role. It is a role that has evolved over a long time. But the general crux of the matter is simply that the first law officer, the Attorney-General, has to stand above and to the right of his cabinet colleagues when it comes to the administration of the law.