Page 4125 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 15 November 2005

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Attorney-General, would you commit to investigating such breaches and ensuring government agencies are aware of and comply with their obligations under the guidelines?

MR STANHOPE: Yes, I will happily commit to that. In saying that, I have to say, as Chief Minister and Attorney-General, I cannot recall a single representation in which I have received a complaint about non-compliance with the model litigant undertakings of the ACT or ACT authorities. Most particularly, of course, in relation to being a model litigant, we refer to the Director of Public Prosecutions and the ACT Government Solicitor.

If there are people who have approached you, Dr Foskey, with concerns about the behaviour or actions of ACT government officials or agencies in relation to non-compliance with AAT orders, I would be more than pleased if you would provide me with those details, if you are able to, and I will pursue each of the issues that have been raised with you and seek a response from the relevant ACT official or agency. That is all I can undertake to do now.

I take the model litigant obligations of the ACT government extremely seriously. It is something that I have, over time, insisted that the Department of Justice and Community Safety and all agencies associated with the Department of Justice and Community Safety take seriously.

I am not aware—I cannot bring to mind; it may be that I forget—of an instance in which the model litigant rules have been raised with me. I honestly cannot remember receiving a representation on the subject. I am prepared to stand corrected on that. I certainly cannot bring to memory a single issue.

I receive regular representations from members of the Canberra community dissatisfied with an outcome in a legal process, whether it be the AAT, one of our other tribunals or the courts. I receive representations on a regular basis from people who are dissatisfied with a finding that is brought down in a tribunal or a court. I do not recall a feature of those complaints being the non-observance by an ACT government authority of the obligation that I expect them to accept and be a model litigant.

I will arrange for a member of my staff to approach your office, Dr Foskey. If there are details that you are able to give me without breaching a confidence or privacy, I will happily pursue all of those issues.

DR FOSKEY: Given that, what recourse is open to people who feel that they have suffered detriment as a result of breaches of the guidelines? What procedural safeguards are in place to ensure that their concerns are properly addressed?

MR STANHOPE: I do not wish to appear to be unhelpful, but the question is too broad and perhaps too hypothetical for me to even attempt a response. It would depend very much on the circumstance of the particular situation. The model litigant rules, of themselves, stand outside the law. The model litigant rules are, essentially, rules by which I expect ACT government agencies to abide.

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