Page 2834 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 17 August 2005

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MR PRATT: I rise to make a personal explanation clarifying a number of media reports, including one in the Canberra Times run over 2 and 3 August, based on claims made by Mr Peter Wallace against Care Australia and naming me as a—

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Pratt, these matters are now before the courts. I have seen the documents as to where the matters have been placed before the courts. I am very cautious about anything being said in relation to these matters that might impinge on the deliberations of the court. So I caution you that, if I sense that you are touching on a matter that might come before the courts, I am going to ask you to sit down.

MR PRATT: I am sure that will not be the case, because this statement does not go to the detail of what may be before the courts at all. It simply goes to the detail of what was reported in the media, in itself not necessarily a reflection of what is before the courts.

MR SPEAKER: The difficulty is that, if something is entered into proceedings in this place, it might then become inadmissible in the courts. I am not going to permit that to happen. That would be a gross interference in the operation of the judiciary. For you to proceed on this matter and to make comments in relation to matters that have appeared in the papers runs the risk of having the matter incorporated in proceedings in this place. Therefore, it runs the risk of interfering with the ability of the courts to deal with the matter. You can proceed. Who am I to judge what might come before the courts? That is the difficulty for me. I have seen several newspaper reports about this matter. You have also raised the issue with the Clerk, which has made me very sensitive to it. You were sounding a warning, I think, to let me know that you would be asking me to rule things as sub judice if they were to touch on matters that might go to the courts. I am saying that the same rule applies to you in relation to a personal explanation.

MR PRATT: I will take further advice then from the Clerk. At this stage, I will leave the matter on the table. I will review this matter and consider revisiting it tomorrow.

MR SPEAKER: I would prefer that you do that, thank you.

MR PRATT: Although I do not think that this matter would have rebounded on anything before the courts.

Bushfires—coronial inquest

Debate resumed.

MR SESELJA: (Molonglo) (3.45): I will be supporting Mr Stefaniak’s motion and opposing Mr Stanhope’s amendment. I flag that I will be moving an amendment to Mr Stanhope’s amendment that calls on the Attorney-General to table all the relevant legal advice. I will get to that later. This motion is about closure. It is about closure for those who have lost loved ones, for those who have lost their homes, for those who have been injured and for all those affected by the 2003 bushfires and who want answers. Mr Stanhope keeps saying how he empathises with those who have suffered, but everything he has done since the fires suggests that this is merely lip service. Who can forget “Blame me”? Ever since Mr Stanhope said “Blame me” he has been looking to

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