Page 205 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 8 December 2004

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recollection of an extraordinary cabinet meeting. The thing about it is that it was an extraordinary meeting, but they do not have a clear recollection of it. “I don’t remember,” the Carmen Lawrence touch, is part of the government’s covering itself, trying to protect itself, because if you cannot remember you cannot be held responsible for something. What we had in the course of the run-up to the election—

Mr Corbell: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mrs Dunne is implying that ministers are lying. She is imputing an improper motive. That is disorderly and I ask you to ask her to withdraw it.

MR SPEAKER: I think that Mrs Dunne is arguing that the ministers’ position in relation to matters discussed in cabinet was inadequate. I think that these are debating points.

Mr Corbell: On the point of order, Mr Speaker: Mrs Dunne is going further than that. She is suggesting that what ministers have said publicly about the cabinet meeting, compared with what is on the record about it, is inconsistent and that ministers are seeking to cover their behinds. That is implying that ministers are lying. It is a very clear imputation, Mr Speaker, and I ask you to rule on that, because imputations—

MR SPEAKER: I think that it is open to Mrs Dunne to make the accusation that what ministers are saying publicly and what is on the record is different. It is open to Mrs Dunne to say that, surely.

Mr Corbell: It is; but she is going further than that, because she is suggesting that it is being done deliberately, and that is imputing an improper motive.

MR SPEAKER: If that is what has been said, Mr Corbell, and I discover that that is the case, I will deal with it. I will listen more closely to what she says; but if there is anything said that can be recognised as an imputation of lying I will make sure that it does not proceed.

MRS DUNNE: Mr Speaker, what this boils down to is a pattern of, essentially, running interference with the community finding out what happened and the community finding the answers to why it was not warned. No-one expects to be told, “We could have stopped the fire and we didn’t.” No-one expects that. No-one reasonably thinks after the fires broke out and after a certain lapse of time that this was not an inevitable outcome.

What the community really objects to is that it was not warned and people are looking for the reasons for why they were not warned and why, as a result of that, four people died, 490-odd houses were burnt down, there was a billion dollars worth of damage, lives were scarred forever and people were physically and emotionally scarred forever, and people want outcomes on that.

What we are seeing here is delay. There were delays caused by not appointing counsel as was necessary and now, after the election, after delay strung out the coronial inquest so that the coroner could not report according to her original timetable, we have another series of delays. The issue is not that nine people took particular action; it is that the Attorney-General endorsed that delay and, in endorsing that delay, became complicit in

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