Page 4511 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 23 November 2005

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I was advised on Monday that he had not informed the police. I was advised on Monday that the claim made by Mr Omari on television on Friday night—that the individuals that had been approached had contacted ACT Policing—could not be confirmed by ACT Policing. ACT Policing had no record of having been contacted in the way that Mr Omari claimed on Friday night they were contacted.

The allegations are grave. My initial reaction was to confirm with Mr Omari what it was that he said, what it was that he intended to say, and the purpose of my initial letter to Mr Omari was to seek some confirmation from him of the substance of his allegations. I indicated to him at that time that I would arrange for my chief of staff to speak with him and to assist him so that we could get to the bottom of this. There was a conversation between Mr Omari and my chief of staff. My chief of staff asked Mr Omari what information he could provide to assist in the confirmation of the serious allegations, and he could not provide any information—any names, any dates, any leads, any possibilities. He was completely devoid of information.

Mr Pratt: Why not just insist he go to the police?

MR STANHOPE: I then wrote again simply to indicate to Mr Omari the importance of him corroborating his allegations, and advising him that the ACT Chief Police Officer would be asked by me to investigate these most grave allegations.

MR SPEAKER: Order! The minister’s time has expired.

MR PRATT: Thank you, Chief Minister. You make some relevant points, but I have a supplementary question: why are you allowing your political grievances with Mr Omari to blur your judgment, and why are you, by your peculiar standards, impinging on Mr Omari’s human rights by personally and deliberately pressuring him, instead of allowing the police to do their job? Where is the arm’s length?

MR STANHOPE: I did not make any statement I have made in relation to this matter lightly. This is a most grave situation. These are very serious allegations that have been made. I, along with I believe other members of the Assembly, have received a joint letter from the five recognised Muslim organisations of the ACT in relation to the allegations that Mr Omari made. There are five organisations that broadly represent the Muslim communities of the ACT. I am sure you have seen the letter that they have written to Mr Omari. In light of the content of that letter, I find it remarkable that the Liberal Party in this place would pursue the attitude that they are pursuing here in terms of their response to these grave allegations.

Mr Pratt: We are just pursuing the issue of arm’s length, Chief Minister.


MR STANHOPE: The five recognised representative Muslim organisations within the—

Mr Pratt: Pursuing the issue of arm’s length.

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