Page 4190 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 16 November 2005
matters that might be considered either to be sub judice or to be candidates to be sub judice or subject to other inquiry and where, from what little I know, it would have been in the clear interests of the government to answer those questions forthrightly and not to invoke the claim of sub judice.
It does almost beggars belief to hear Mr Seselja say that this is not about politics, but about the public interest. If I thought for a moment that the motivation for this motion and the whole raft of questions that have been asked about the bushfire or matters that have been published arising out of the bushfire inquest was the public interest, I would not bother to enter this debate. That has clearly not been the case. Let me say, Mr Seselja, I do not believe that claim.
This is about mudslinging. This is about trying to take matters that are before an inquiry out of context and use them for political purposes. If the public interest was the main motivation, then the opposition would hold back, allow the coroner to do her job, take the findings of the coronial inquest in their context and then make whatever political capital they will out of that. But I think, no, that is not the case.
So many times it would have been in Mr Stanhope’s interest to answer some questions. There was a whole period of: “Where were you on the night of the 15th, Mr Stanhope?” As far as I could see, that issue had absolutely no relevance to any public debate. Why persist with all this? It is because the opposition clearly adopted a tactic: we have got nothing going for us; we need to keep this alive; we need to actually use the victims of the bushfire who have not been able to move on.
Thankfully, a great majority have been able to move on, but I recognise that there are some victims of the bushfire who have not been able to move on. They are genuinely still in a recovery phase. They deserve our help and assistance, in an objective manner, of course. But I reckon there are a couple of characters out there with their own agenda climbing all over the matter as well.
This opposition was very concerned about the government’s decision to bring an action against the coroner for an appearance of bias. They said, “What is the government doing? They cannot do that. Get on with the coronial inquest. We want the coronial inquest to give us the facts.” But, at the same time, ever since the bushfire they have been asking questions and trying to pre-empt the whole coronial process.
They want this Assembly to throw out the precautionary principle, and that is what this motion is about. They have said that, unless we can convince them that there is a really good reason why they should not delve into a matter that a court is examining and will report on, they will continue. They say, “We want it now. We want it out in the media now. We want to talk about this particular matter. We want to climb all over the evidence of a so-called expert, as he has given it. We want to build some questions on it and talk about conspiracies. Why won’t they tell us?” Their continual claim is that they are doing it in the public interest.
The standard claim is: people want to know; people come to us. That is easily said and difficult to disprove. I am a resident of Weston Creek. I have looked at the results of the October election. The government increased its vote across town—of course it did—but even more it increased its vote in Weston Creek, the affected area. That flies in the face