Page 5509 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2011

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I start with a caveat: it is not for me to advise the government or the Assembly on what the law should be, and these are matters of public policy.

Ms Gallagher has correctly identified the crime that has been committed here, but it is an offence which has been committed by Simon Corbell—that is, in Ms Gallagher’s words, to take the word “flexibility” to suit his political cause. As much as we can have debates about the detail of this motion, when it comes down to it, Ms Gallagher herself has identified that that is exactly what has occurred. I would ask the Greens—in this case I would implore them—to look at the facts in black and white. This is not a matter for interpretation. It is quite clear that Simon Corbell has verballed the DPP. The DPP has specifically ruled out providing advice. It is in the Hansard. The DPP has had his words taken and used for a political cause exactly as Ms Gallagher has alleged.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (10.59), in reply: It is telling that the attorney had so little to say in his defence. He had a great deal to say about the opposition but could not bring himself, for a considerable amount of the time that he spoke, to actually address the substantive issues. The substantive issue is about telling the truth. The ministerial code of conduct and the expectations and conventions of the Westminster system require us to tell the truth. They also require that if we do not tell the truth, either advertently or inadvertently, we come in here at the earliest possible opportunity and correct the matter.

What we have had here over the course of two sitting weeks is the minister perpetuating an untruth and misleading the Assembly about the views of the DPP on a particular policy matter. When I went back and reflected upon what the DPP actually said after the minister made these comments on 27 October and discussed it with my colleagues, we decided to ask a question to give the minister an opportunity to set the record straight. The minister, first of all, took it on notice: “I can’t possibly remember what I said last sitting week. It was too long ago.” But the previous sitting week he had a very clear idea of what the DPP had said three years ago. So it was very surprising that, when the Canberra Liberals put him on notice that there was a problem, he would come in yesterday and repeat the mistruth.

Mr Doszpot again challenged Mr Corbell yesterday. The attorney made an accusation that I selectively quoted from the DPP and that the line that he quoted about flexibility I did not quote. In fact, they are clearly in my notes and I have a clear recollection of using the word “flexibility” when I read from them. I turned over the page because it is highlighted in my notes. The things that are highlighted I read out:

… sentences for manslaughter can range from that sort of range right down to, in some instances, bonds, and immediate release without imprisonment, depending on the circumstances of the manslaughter. There is plenty of flexibility available to sentencing judges in relation to sentences for both manslaughter and murder.

The important issue is:

I prefer to do any commentary on the level of sentences through the courts.

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