Page 2154 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 22 June 2005

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their job and it would be improper in the extreme for the government or a minister to interfere in that process. Indeed, if we did, we would be criticised by those opposite, and probably quite rightly so.

So it comes as something of a surprise that the Leader of the Opposition put out a press release the other day advocating that we do just that, that we interfere. Mr Smyth wants the government to interfere in the proper operation of the Office of Fair Trading, which is responding to complaints, as it is duty bound to do. Not only does Mr Smyth want us to interfere, but he has also implicitly taken the side of one business over the other. I would be curious to know how the Waldorf and the business community feel about the Leader of the Opposition, the opposition spokesman on business, taking a side in a business dispute. I suspect that they would take a very dim view.

But what is of even greater concern is the fact that Mr Smyth’s deputy, Mr Stefaniak, has, within the estimates process, effectively taken the side of the Waldorf. So here we have, sitting side by side, the Leader of the Opposition advocating in the paper, getting his name in the Canberra Times again with some cute headlines about toast and jam, sticking up for the little businessman, the nightclub. And in estimates we have his deputy sticking up for the complainant against that business. I think this is one of several examples afoot these days to show that we have an opposition that is still in disarray after an electoral flogging of several months ago.


MR PRATT: My question is to the minister for police, Mr Hargreaves. Minister, have you ensured that the matter of the police handling of the case of the 16-year-old victim of an alleged rape this week has been referred—have you ensured it has been referred—to the relevant professional standards board for investigation?

MR SPEAKER: Order! This matter is before the courts and I am not going to encourage debate in this place—

Mr Stefaniak: Point of order, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Wait until I am finished. I am not going to encourage debate in this place that might affect the way the courts handle this matter. Mr Stefaniak, do you want to raise a point of order?

Mr Stefaniak: I take a point of order. Mr Speaker, in relation to the point you have raised. I would submit to you that it is not so much about a matter that is before the courts. Mr Pratt is raising a matter of procedure in terms of what the police are meant to do or not to do. It does not go to the substantive issue. What is before the court is an allegation of rape, a very serious matter. This is nothing to do with the matter before the courts. This is a matter of procedure and what the police should or should not have done prior to anything actually happening with the court. The courts are irrelevant in this regard. This is a matter of police procedure.

MR SPEAKER: Thanks for your contribution, but I happened to be listening to the radio this morning when a police PR person was responding to the same issue and the police PR person made abundantly clear that they were not going to respond to any of

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