Page 4967 - Week 15 - Thursday, 15 December 2005

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I am at a bit of a loss about what the Assembly can do about these problems. When the Court of Appeal was set up, the idea was that there would be two interstate judges, who invariably were judges of the Federal Court, who would be seconded to the Court of Appeal, as well as a local ACT judge other than the judge who heard the trial. I think that would be preferable.

Mr Stanhope: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. These comments attack a decision of the Court of Appeal. I do not think there is any other construction that can be put on the shadow Attorney’s comments than that he is calling into question a decision brought down by the Court of Appeal. I urge him to show a greater degree of respect than his comments indicate.

MR SPEAKER: I think the comments go close to a reflection on the judiciary.

MR STEFANIAK: With respect, it does not, Mr Speaker. Reflecting adversely on the judiciary relates more to offensive comments in relation to individual members of the judiciary. I am certainly not doing that. I do think there are certain things we need to look at, though, in terms of how we run our appellate court system. We have a small Magistrates Court and an even smaller Supreme Court. The idea initially with the Court of Appeal was to have two judges from outside—and there are more judges from outside accredited to the Court of Appeal than local judges—plus one local judge who was not the trial judge. I think that would alleviate some problems that may well be occurring.

I do have concerns about this. I certainly do not withdraw my comments. These things should be tested in a higher court, and there is only one higher court. I have no further comments in relation to the matter. Perhaps that is a matter for the Attorney to look at, as far as he can.

I would like to thank all members who have been here throughout the year. Unlike our new members, I have been here for quite a long time. I think that each of us, despite our differences of view, is here to serve the people of the ACT to the best of our ability. I have seen that over the course of a number of Assemblies, and this last year is no different. So, to all members, to their staff, especially to my Liberal Party colleagues and their staff, I wish you the very best for Christmas and the New Year.

The Assembly staff, as always, have shown themselves to be thoroughly professional and helpful in everything they do. This place could not operate without them. Our role would be impossible were it not for the diligence of the staff, ranging through the attendants—Lewis and his colleagues—through to the Library staff, Hansard, Tom and Max, the committee secretariat, corporate services and everyone in this building who makes our job so much easier to do. They provide sterling service to us and, through us, to the people of the ACT. I would also like to thank all the other people who we come in contact with, including the media. It is an honour to represent the constituency of Ginninderra.

I would like to thank my own personal staff, Helen and Heidi. Finally, I would like to thank my wife Shirley and my family for their forbearance in putting up with me again

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