Page 3368 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 20 September 2005
MR SPEAKER: Mr Stefaniak, the fact of the matter is a substantive motion was moved and carried in this place. These are matters of fact. It is, however, inappropriate to reflect on a vote.
MR STANHOPE: I agree, Mr Speaker, and I will not do that. I am just referring to the facts of the matter. This Assembly found, quite rightly, as the vote indicates, that Mr Stefaniak is a serial misleader of this place and of the people of Canberra.
MR SPEAKER: Order! I think the motion was fairly clearly about a particular matter, not about a sequence of matters.
MR STANHOPE: Point taken, Mr Speaker. It is a point well made. To that extent, I was pleased to receive the confirmation of the Chief Justice. I will repeat his comments for the members of the Assembly. The Chief Justice, in his response on this particular issue, said, “I should say, contrary to the media slant”—the comments made in his speech—“were not intended as a criticism of the conduct of the executive or any member of it nor to suggest some deliberate policy challenging judicial independence of the separation of powers.”
In his letter the Chief Justice goes on to talk about issues in relation to different views about the separation of powers and its operation, the lively debate that there has been amongst judicial officers around Australia about the so-called traditional model of support for courts and a predominant view, the Chief Justice claims, in relation to another way of supporting courts around Australia.
He talks about that. He says, and this is a point that I have made repeatedly, that, apart from South Australia, the other states and the Northern Territory remain in the traditional model. The Chief Justice confirms everything that I have said, that there is one jurisdiction, namely, South Australia with a particular model and administration of funding and every other jurisdiction, bar the Commonwealth, in Australia follows the traditional model of support, the model which Mr Stefaniak supported when he was Attorney-General and which is still the model pursued in the ACT.
He goes on to say that it is a matter that the Council of Chief Justices has turned its attention to. He refers to the consensus amongst his colleagues for a consideration of other ways of supporting courts as a result of the views of the Chief Justice. In the context of his acknowledgment that it is a matter under debate amongst judges, he goes on to say, “I emphasise that neither I nor my colleagues have ever doubted the commitment of the ACT government to the principles of judicial independence.”
It was a matter of some pleasure to me that the Chief Justice of the ACT supported absolutely everything that I have said in relation to this. Everything that Mr Stefaniak and Mr Smyth have said publicly and in this place on this issue is revealed now to be complete opportunistic bunkum, which led, of course, to the censure of Mr Stefaniak in this place. Mr Stefaniak should have known that he was wrong and he was censured appropriately for misleading the Assembly in the way that he did.