Page 503 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 16 February 2005

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But to take action at the time the attorney has taken it is unprecedented. What we did in December was very different from what we are doing now. But what we are doing now is appropriate on this point—a most important point, but a narrow point in terms of the proper administration of justice, the role of the Attorney-General and the need for him to be seen to be doing the right thing.

The fact is that the attorney was involved as a witness—an important witness, no doubt—in this coronial inquest. He initiated an action on behalf of the government. It was separate from but in conjunction with—at the same time, anyway—the action initiated by the nine individuals through their legal counsel, legal counsel probably paid for by the government.

There is great angst out there in the community. People want answers. They want answers to simple questions such as why they were not warned, and they actually want to see this process continue and come to a conclusion. They want finalisation. They want to be able, especially the victims, to move on. I think that the actions of the government in relation to the matters around these proceedings are seen as not allowing that to happen. People out there are saying, “Why is the Attorney-General being involved in this? He is a witness”. People out there can see that there is a conflict of interest, even if none of the members opposite can. That is why we have brought on this motion today calling on the Attorney-General to stand aside.

Quite clearly, he is not going to do so. I think that is a great shame and I think that he stands condemned for that. It is not rocket science. It is not saying that he is right or wrong, or even commenting on the case. We are not going to comment on the case. The motion is simply saying that the proper thing for the Attorney-General to do is to stand aside. Precedent clearly indicates that that would be the proper thing to do. I think that it is very disappointing at the very least to see that he will not do so and that members opposite are supporting him in that regard.

Question put:

That Mr Stefaniak’s motion be agreed to.

The Assembly voted—

Ayes 6

Noes 9

Mrs Burke

Mr Stefaniak

Mr Berry

Ms MacDonald

Mrs Dunne

Dr Foskey

Ms Porter

Mr Mulcahy

Ms Gallagher

Mr Quinlan

Mr Seselja

Mr Gentleman

Mr Stanhope

Mr Smyth

Mr Hargreaves

Question so resolved in the negative.

Sustainability targets

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.00): I move:

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