Page 381 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 15 February 2005

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Let us follow through the logic now, in relation to the present application, of what Mr Stefaniak and the Liberal Party are asserting. We had one precedent in relation to this very coronial inquest, namely an application by parties represented to the Supreme Court in relation to the non-release of documents. And what did the Supreme Court find? The Supreme Court found that a number of individuals had had their rights denied.

Mr Smyth: Including the ACT government?

MR STANHOPE: Well, I cannot recall that.

Mr Smyth: But that’s what you just said. You said it a minute ago.

MR STANHOPE: Did I? I will check whether or not the ACT was part of that specific—

Opposition members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order! Interjections are highly disorderly, and responding to them does not help.

MR STANHOPE: I take the point though. An application was made. I will confirm the nature of the ACT government’s relationship to the application that was made last August. But that is irrelevant to the point I make. The point I make is that an application was made last year to the Supreme Court in relation to a matter before the coroner, and the Supreme Court found the matter well founded. The Supreme Court found, as a matter of fact and law, that the rights of certain Canberrans had been denied as a result of the actions of the coroner.

So we take the logical next step, the position asserted by Mr Stefaniak, as a one-time attorney-general and a lawyer, that, if you as attorney-general have advice that there are procedural inconsistencies with the way in which a judicial officer is performing his or her duty, you turn your back so as not to be seen to be undermining the individual coroner. This is an absolute nonsense! In other words, Mr Stefaniak would support a situation in which he was advised that there was a real chance that individuals were being denied their right to natural justice and he would think it more important that he turn his back than to ensure that justice was being done.

MR STEFANIAK: I ask a supplementary question. Attorney, how can you say that you do not have a conflict of interest, given the provisions of the Coroners Act that I read out and the fact that some legal practitioners of over 20 years standing say that you actually do have that conflict.

MR SPEAKER: I think there was an accusation in that supplementary question that there was a conflict of interest. Conflict of interest matters are determined by this house. To use language that makes that accusation is, I think, disorderly. I think that is what you were doing; you were accusing—

Mrs Dunne: No.

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