Page 195 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 8 December 2004

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everything the judiciary or judicial officers do. But that is very different from taking the action he has taken, which undermines the position of the coroner and the system and undermines the institution of the court—not only the Coroners Court but also the justice system itself.

This is a distinction he seems to have missed. He has appreciated that he did not need to join this action; he said that publicly—and he does not resile from it today—yet, several weeks ago, he took an extraordinary step, one which I cannot see any other Attorney-General having taken at all.

The case of R v Michael Somes ex parte Francis Woods and Co was referred to in the list of cases submitted to the coroner by counsel representing the nine people who will appear. This is a case that members who were around in 1997 or 1998 might recall: it relates to a death in custody at Quamby.

Magistrate Michael Somes was the one who refused bail for the young man, who had all sorts of problems. He remanded him in custody at Quamby where, tragically, the young man died. This application was taken by a number of persons employed at Quamby at the time, on the grounds of apprehended bias, to stop Coroner Somes, who had dealt with the young man on the bail application and refused bail, from dealing with the matter.

Not only is it interesting to compare the parties here, but also what the Australian Capital Territory and the person standing in for the attorney did. I think Russell Bayliss was the solicitor and Chris Erskine represented the territory. In reading this judgment, Chris Erskine, on behalf of the territory and the Attorney-General, strongly defended the need for the coroner to get on with the job, even though at the end of the day there would be findings that might be adverse to the government and individuals. That I think indicates what should happen here; the Attorney-General is quite wrong in what he has done.

Question put:

That Mr Stefaniak’s motion be agreed to.

The Assembly voted—

Ayes 7

Noes 10

Mrs Burke

Mr Smyth

Mr Berry

Mr Hargreaves

Mrs Dunne

Mr Stefaniak

Mr Corbell

Ms MacDonald

Mr Mulcahy

Dr Foskey

Ms Porter

Mr Pratt

Ms Gallagher

Mr Quinlan

Mr Seselja

Mr Gentleman

Mr Stanhope

Question so resolved in the negative.


Motion of want of confidence

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (4.56): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to move a motion of no confidence in the Attorney-General.

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