Page 206 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 8 December 2004

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that delay in a way that is inappropriate for somebody holding the position of first law officer.

A person who has a matter before a court and who thinks that they may have an adverse finding about them, a firefighter or someone involved in emergency services, has the right under law—I uphold that right—to seek whatever redress is necessary. If Mr Stanhope, as an individual, feels that he needs to take that path, he is welcome to do so. But he is not welcome to do it while holding the office of Attorney-General. That is the crux of the matter being debated by the Legislative Assembly today.

Mr Quinlan can try to confound it all he likes but Mr Stanhope, as Attorney-General, has blurred the distinction between his rights as an individual and his responsibilities as the first law officer, his responsibilities as the Attorney-General. If he has that conflict of interest, if his self-interest comes before his role as the Attorney-General, he must stand down.

The motion that we debated before this one gave him the opportunity to set things right. It would not have stopped the delays, because nine other people are causing delays, but it would have meant that the attorney had had an opportunity to reconsider the appropriateness of his actions. The appropriateness of his actions is at stake here and, because he has acted inappropriately, he should be stripped of his office.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (5.37): The Treasurer stated that the government’s actions do not add to the delay. They do add to the delay. The government will be making a submission that is going to add to further delay; so the statement the Treasurer made that it will not add to the delay or will not delay proceedings is incorrect. It will delay them; of course it will.

Mr Quinlan: An hour.

MR SESELJA: Do you think that it is going to take an hour? I think that displays the Treasurer’s ignorance of this matter. He was saying to us that it was not going to add to the delay and now he is saying that it will add an hour. I would argue that it is going to be more significant than that.

The government’s submission is going to be the most significant. The government will have a team of legal advisers. It has unlimited resources available to it, so it will cause considerable delay, not to mention considerable extra cost to ACT taxpayers. Mr Quinlan tries to write it off by saying, “Sorry, this is happening anyway and nothing we could have done would have changed the matter.” It will change it; it will change it significantly. The Treasurer was clearly incorrect in what he was saying there. He was trying to fob it off by saying, “We are just jumping on board and we are not going to change anything.” You are; you are changing it.

At the heart of the question is whether the attorney was in a position to make an objective decision as to what was in the interests of justice. Let’s look at that. We have a person whose actions have been scrutinised by the coronial process. As Chief Minister, his actions have been scrutinised by the coronial process. At the end of that process, when it is finally allowed to run, there could be adverse findings against the Chief

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