Page 498 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 16 February 2005

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Why are they out on the street, Mr Speaker? It is because there may be only the perception of a conflict of interest, but it is there. The only way an honourable man, an honourable Attorney-General, can answer that is by standing aside. He is saying, “I am in charge of the system. I fund the system. I have actually been called to answer questions by the system. I am now appealing against the system. I will get the report from the system. I may have to respond to that report and put in place the actions desired by the system. But I am the system and I am not responsible to anyone”. What we have from the community is a concern and what the opposition is saying is that the best way to answer that concern is to stand aside.

An excuse was given by Mr Quinlan in his standard way. When you get an answer from Mr Quinlan on something that he is concerned about or on which he does not know what to say, he just misdirects. He said that that would mean that all members on his side of the chamber could not be the Attorney-General. That is not true. Mr Stanhope, as the Attorney-General and as Chief Minister, is the only member of the government to have appeared before that inquiry, so any one of the other seven members could possibly carry out duties under the Attorney-General’s portfolio.

If you wanted to say anyone who was not a member of the previous Assembly when the bushfire tragedy occurred, that would leave Ms Porter and Mr Gentleman as members who could possibly act as Attorney-General. If you wanted to say that other cabinet ministers were affected, let Mr Hargreaves—God forbid—act as the Attorney-General. Mr Hargreaves was not a cabinet minister at the time—18 January 2003.So, in answer to Mr Quinlan’s criticism, there are many people on his side of the chamber who could act as Attorney-General, unless Mr Quinlan does not have any faith or confidence in any of his other colleagues.

Mr Quinlan said that the government is trying to send a message to the public. Mr Quinlan ought to open up page 2 of the Canberra Times this morning, because members of the public are sending the government a message that they are concerned. They are taking public action, organised public action, to show that they are concerned at what this government is doing. They are saying, “We have had a protest rally, with almost 300 people present. We have now got a web site for communicating with other citizens on their concerns about what this government is doing to the coronial inquiry into the bushfires”. I think that Mr Quinlan ought to listen for a change to what the public is saying. He does not do that very well.

Mr Quinlan, who does not even listen to what is being said in this chamber let alone what is being said by the public, attempted to say that Mr Stanhope had not stymied the release of the COAG report, that eventually he had written back and said that it could be released. Mr Quinlan indicated that obviously Mr Seselja did not understand the situation. Good try, Mr Quinlan, but turn your hearing aid up or clean out your ears, because Mr Seselja did not even mention the delay in the release of the COAG report. He was speaking about other reports that your government has sat on. That was typical of the misdirection of Treasurer Quinlan when he is in a bind.

Mr Stanhope came in and tried the same sort of misdirection, as he did yesterday when he said, “What about the other appeal last August?” To the best of my knowledge, the government was not joined to the other appeal last August; again, more obfuscation,

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