Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 August 2005) . . Page.. 3193 ..
MR SESELJA: The Attorney-General does think that the coroner is biased and that is why they launched the action. He says it is all about an apprehension of bias. As I said before, actually joining in that action adds to that apprehension. He is so concerned about an apprehension of bias that he adds to that apprehension by joining an action saying she is biased. The Attorney-General finds himself in a difficult position as a result of this, and he was so reluctant to express full confidence because he realised the difficulty of his position. On the one hand, the coroner is biased; but, on the other hand, he has full confidence in her. That raises issues for the Attorney-General.
This is why Mr Stefaniak has quite reasonably been calling on the Attorney-General to step aside while this process is completed. I do not quite understand the reasoning for not doing that. Even if Mr Stanhope is able to make a reasonable legal argument on the basis that the community has concerns—and the community does have concerns—Mr Quinlan will no doubt get up, if he gets up to speak, and say the community does not have concerns because they still voted for the government, even though of course the legal action was launched just before the last election and no-one knew about it.
But the community does have concerns, and there is a perception. Even if Mr Stanhope is so confident that there is no legal problem, he should at least, for the sake of public confidence—public confidence in the judiciary and public confidence in him as first law officer—step aside; do as the motion asks and, instead of the usual stuff we get where a motion gets completely amended and changed from its original intent, support the motion; stand aside and allow this to run its course so that the public can have full confidence in this process as it goes forward.
MR QUINLAN (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Business, Minister for Tourism, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister for Racing and Gaming) (5.32): I will borrow some of the thoughts of the Chief Minister, seeing that his speech was cut short by a point or order. Mr Stefaniak says that Mr Stanhope has breached the separation of powers. But what has Mr Stefaniak done, by his behaviour on this issue and in this motion that he puts before the Assembly? The answer is simple and clear: in so distorting the words of the Chief Justice, he has politicised that high office and committed the most glaring breach of the lines drawn in the Westminster system between the judiciary and the parliament. He has breached the separation of powers, not once but repeatedly.
It is simple, and it is blatant. Mr Stefaniak has misled the public, misled the Assembly misquoted the Chief Justice in this motion. He deserves the censure of the Assembly for doing so and for his continued efforts to make petty political points out of important governance issues.
It is unfortunate that the Chief Minister did not get time to deliver that himself but that is quite telling, because this whole proposition that we have in front of us is based on false premises. Even though Mr Seselja anticipates that what he is going to say is going to be criticised, I think it is naive of him to think that I will not criticise. This proposition is based on false premises all the way through.
First of all, and most importantly, the Chief Minister has clearly shown where you have misconstrued the words of the Chief Justice. I hoped somewhere you had the wit to know