Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 7 December 2004) . . Page.. 64 ..
MR STANHOPE: The advice that the government received in relation to this matter was advice that was prepared by independent counsel. It was advice that was arranged and facilitated by the head of the department of justice or his officers, as one would expect. But the government has independent legal counsel representing it in relation to this matter and advice in relation to this matter was prepared by independent legal counsel.
MRS DUNNE: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. In light of that answer, who was the independent legal counsel and how was that seeking advice facilitated by the head of your department?
MR STANHOPE: The advice in relation to this matter from independent counsel was sought in precisely the way that independent advice is sought by the government in relation to all the issues in which we are involved. The territory, through the department of justice or through the ACT solicitor or through me, is involved in the courts on a daily basis. It is fair to say that on almost every day a court sits in the territory, the territory in one guise or another is represented, and in relation to many of those matters I give advice, or my advice is sought and I give direction or instructions. It happens daily.
In the context of the question you asked, I received a request just this week for advice in relation to a matter before the court going to the defamation action between Ms Szuty and Mr Smyth. In fact, yesterday I received a brief from the department of justice in relation to a matter before the Supreme Court now, namely the finalisation of costs by Ms Helen Szuty against Mr Brendan Smyth. My advice as Attorney-General has been sought.
Mrs Dunne: Point of order, Mr Speaker. Under both paragraphs (a) and (b) of standing order 118, the answer is not to the point, it is not concise and it is debating another issue.
MR SPEAKER: Come to the point of the question.
MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, I was coming to the point that I think it is important to put this in context. This is not unusual. The department constantly seeks my advice as Attorney-General in relation to matters affecting the territory that have been dealt with in the courts.
Just yesterday—and this is quite pertinent—the department of justice referred a brief to me in relation to a matter that I believe is in the courts this week, namely an issue of costs. Bear in mind that the territory met the costs of Mr Smyth in the defamation action against him by Ms Szuty for his outrageous defamation of her.
Mr Stefaniak: Point of order, Mr Speaker. I think he personally needs to withdraw the word “outrageous”.
Mr Smyth: I won.
Mr Stefaniak: Exactly. Firstly, it is contrary to a court decision; and, secondly, again the Chief Minister is not confining his remarks to the subject matter. He is again being repetitious so he is breaching paragraphs (a) and (b) of standing order 118.