Page 3198 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 24 August 2005

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The article that was run on the weekend by the Canberra Times puts that into a headline: “Judiciary freedom put at risk: judge blasts Government, fire inquiry”. The Canberra Times has not printed the correction letter from the Chief Justice, because I do not think they have received one. The Chief Justice has not denied the interpretation that two journalists from the Canberra Times have put, and he certainly must be aware of what is happening here in this place.

Mr Speaker, I appreciate that we are about to run out of time. I request that, when we move to vote on the amendment, the amendment be split into parts 1 and 2.

MR SPEAKER: You will have to move that.

Motion (by Mr Smith) negatived:

That the amendments be divided.

MR SMYTH: Such is life. One would expect that. Having ignored everything that is in Mr Stefaniak’s motion, we get the amendment from the Chief Minister. But let us look at what Mr Stefaniak’s motion actually says—something totally ignored by the Chef Minister. Point (1) (a) notes the concerns expressed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court regarding threats to the doctrine of separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary. It is a fact. I have just read it out of his speech. That is a statement of fact. Tick, Mr Stefaniak.

Part (b) notes the concerns expressed by the community, fire victims, and legal practitioners at the government’s unprecedented actions—it is an unprecedented action; that is correct—in initiating or joining the appeal against Coroner Doogan and the threat to the doctrine of separation of the executive and judicial powers as a result of that action. It is a fact. It is a fact that there is a threat; it is not something we are saying. We agree with the person who put this premise forward, the Chief Justice of the ACT who, in his own speech, makes the statement that it is under threat and then links it to his most recent decision regarding the bias of Coroner Doogan.

Mr Quinlan: That is a little leap you took there, sonny.

MR SMYTH: It is not a little leap, Mr Quinlan; it is consistent; it is on page 1, it is on page 2. You should read the speech, Mr Quinlan. It is the Chief Justice that makes the leap.

We get to point (2), which condemns the Attorney-General for his interference in the administration of justice in the ACT that has led to the Chief Justice expressing his concerns. The Chief Justice, of his own volition, made this statement. It has been reported in the Canberra Times: “Judge blasts government, fire inquiry”. The Chief Justice has not complained to the Canberra Times or, if he has, they have not printed it. Obviously the Chief Justice does not have any problem with the inference that has been drawn by the authors of the article in the Canberra Times; so I think point 2 is proven.

Point (3) calls on the Attorney-General to stand aside as Attorney-General for the duration of the coronial inquest into the January 2003 bushfires. When we had the

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