Page 188 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 8 December 2004

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Mr Stanhope’s personal view of Coroner Doogan—it has to. Why would you ask somebody and not respect their position? I am without an answer on this, and Mr Stanhope has not given a significant answer.

Why is the Chief Minister and Attorney-General trying desperately to derail this process? People’s lives and ongoing wellbeing depend upon this coronial process being allowed to continue without delay. Affected people will now have to live through another Christmas without the answers they deserve. Is that fair? What about your Human Rights Act, Mr Stanhope? I wonder if that comes in here? Of course, none of that can really be enforced anyway, can it?

I have not yet heard a suitable answer from the Attorney-General. He has not given a good enough reason as to why he thinks he is allowed to overstep the mark with regard to his roles, responsibilities, and separation of powers—that is even if he understands them. As I have been listening to the debate today he, as Chief Minister and Attorney-General, has not only let his government and himself down in showing his absolute ignorance—that has been ably detailed for us by my colleague Mr Stefaniak—but also, more importantly, Mr Stanhope has let down these people in our community. Do you know that the people in our community depend upon us in this place to do the right thing by them and for them? We are put in an extremely important position in this place. We are, at this stage, now playing with people’s lives. I will leave you with that thought.

The community depends upon Mr Stanhope as the Chief Minister and defender of the law in this city—the chief law-maker—to make decisions for them, not for his own self-interest or that of bureaucrats. These people simply cannot be defended against the actions of this government. In the same way, Mr Stanhope has made provision for the nine bureaucrats. We do not dispute their getting the help he has given them, but what about the people on the other side of the coin, Mr Stanhope? How have you left them?

I think you are lopsided, are you not? What about people’s rights—on both sides? This is not a matter of the rights of people to see justice, it is about the Chief Minister’s involvement in this matter and the appropriateness of his actions. One must ask: what about the rights of others now affected by such action? It is alarming and gravely concerning that Mr Stanhope, in his capacity as Chief Minister and Attorney-General—and I would have thought, someone who should have known better—has set such a precedent in this place. I ask: what will become of future adverse findings against this government? Will it continue to meddle and mess with due process to suit its own ends and to protect itself? That remains to be seen.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (4.26): I rise to speak in support of the motion. I think Mrs Burke touched on a very important aspect of this, which relates to the distress that has been caused by the lack of closure in relation to the fires. I share the concern that has been touched on today about the enormous costs associated with this endeavour. I would encourage the government to rethink the direction in which it is heading, because of the impact on our ACT expenditures—and probably better allocations of those funds that are going to be consumed in legal fees.

During the course of the campaign I called on literally hundreds of residents in Duffy and Chapman. I came across many people whose lives had been impacted in various

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