Page 2840 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 17 August 2005

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That has not been recognised by that lot over there and it has not been recognised in editorials. The newspapers have editorialised to the point of saying, “Jon Stanhope held up the coroner’s inquiry.” That is untrue. It is a fundamental plank of what the opposition has put forward but it is untrue. Seeing the actions that flow from those on the other side, I have my doubts now on whether that reflects them or not. We have seen them as a group trying to have two bob each way on whether the public servants involved get financial support.

I counsel members to reflect, to try a little empathy, to try to put themselves in the place of those nine people and consider the tremendous pressure that is imposed upon them. One of the greatest causes of pressure, anxiety and depression amongst people is uncertainty. Here we have people that are uncertain as to what the outcome is going to be. They are genuinely uncertain about the process that is going on and is going to affect them, some of them severely, for the rest of their lives. The claim being made from the other side of the house is that they are doing this for the victims. That does not reconcile in my mind. Members opposite argue that they care about the public servants affected. If they accept, though they might not want to, that the delay would have occurred anyhow, their role and their duty to the victims would have been not to play on their concern but to assuage it to help them understand that there is a multilayered legal process and everybody has rights under that process.

Had there not been this focus and this deliberate process to use and play upon some very unfortunate people who are victims we might have got a recognition that the rights of those people in the long term and the rights of the nine people whose lives might be impacted forever by this inquiry are not mutually exclusive. Yes, there has been a delay. Mr Stanhope has assured the house that the delay was not anticipated. The delay would have occurred anyway before the government and the attorney enjoined the action.

So one cannot but draw the conclusion that the opposition is involved in tawdry politics and nothing more. Its logic does not hang together. Had the government not enjoined the action, the process would have taken place anyway. It might not have taken place if the government had not accepted that it would assist the nine officials who are under a cloud and who feel, and have been advised by experts, that they are not getting a fair go. In 2005, is it not fundamental to the Australian ethos that everybody gets a fair go?

We now see coming through this process a double standard of convenience. It is only political expediency. If members deny any of the fundamental facts I have enumerated, they have gone about it exactly the wrong way. They have used people. They have inflamed their concern for their benefit, when as public representatives they had a responsibility to involve themselves in exactly the opposite kind of action. In that regard, this is not the Assembly’s finest hour and for some of the people across the house it is not their finest hour either.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (4.13): I am not going to comment about Mr Quinlan’s comments on the editorial. I would expect something like that when it does not go favourably for the government. I was talking to bushfire victims Ric Hingee and Laurie Buchanan at lunchtime about this debate. They want this issue raised. They want closure. Indeed, Mr Hingee said, if the government raised something like what Mr Quinlan said, for me to mention that they feel that arrogance is the mark of the responses they have

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