Page 2839 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 17 August 2005

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MR STANHOPE: It would be to my political advantage to release the document, because it says precisely what I have said it says. I would avoid the sorts of suggestions that are being made about me and my honesty if I simply released it, exposed it to the air, and said, “Look, I told you all along I was telling the truth.” I could do that for my own short-term political advantage but it would not be consistent with my duty. It would not be consistent with the good administration of the territory or administration of the law in the territory, and I will not do it. I will put my duty ahead of my personal, political need in relation to the attacks that are now being made on me about the legal advice.

That is my position and I will bear the brunt and pay the price for that. That is how I have essentially conducted myself since I have been in this business, and I will continue to do it. So we will not support the amendment to my amendment. The government will not release its legal advice on this issue or, as a matter of course, on other issues, just as it will not release cabinet documents just because you think they might be interesting. A privilege attaches to cabinet documents and it attaches for very good reason. Not to have it would substantially damage the capacity to govern, just as the unilateral release of legal documents and legal advice would similarly harm our capacity to manage the administration of justice and the law of the territory.

We will not do that, not for personal or crass political advantage, the sort of political advantage that the opposition is seeking to eke through this motion in the first place and through this amendment. Its actions are not in the interests of the territory, not in the interests of the good administration of the law or the justice system within the territory. The government will not release these documents just to ease it or me out of a prickly little political corner. I will not do it. I will pay the price.

MR QUINLAN (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Business, Minister for Tourism, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister for Racing and Gaming) (4.02): This is a day when we recognise that the gold standard within the place is Boston Legal, an American television show. That is something of a commentary on where we are now. It is a commentary on the boxed logic that is pervasive, not only what is coming from the other side of the house, but also what has been promulgated within our press. Bill Stefaniak mentioned the editorial in the Canberra Times. I think he used the term “balanced” in describing it. I am sure he had his tongue in his cheek. That is one of the most appalling, one-sided editorials that I have seen and it is a reflection on the standard of the Canberra Times that, fortunately, exhibits itself only from time to time.

Claims have been made here that the high moral position of the Liberal Party is to bring closure to the victims, but at the same time it recognises that nine people may be seriously affected by this inquiry. Somehow the stream of logic falls apart. First of all, within the argument that has been put forward by the opposition and supported by at least the Canberra Times, there is no recognition that this delay would have occurred whether or not the government enjoined the action, and that the government only enjoined the action after it knew that it was inevitable and therefore the government was not going to cause delay but could make the decision on the balance of the legal opinion that it had received in relation to the validity of the claim to be made.

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