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Tuesday, 27 February 2001
Page: 22130

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Senator HEFFERNAN» (Parliamentary Secretary to Cabinet) (7:24 PM) —On behalf of the taxpayers of New South Wales, I would like to draw the Senate's attention to the web site and to an article entitled `Victim compensated for alleged underage sex assaults by John «Marsden'» . This matter concerns an application to the Victims Compensation Board by a victim, Mr «Stals» , in claims 97/30987, 97/30988, 97/30990, 97/30993, 97/30998 and 97/31003. These claims were rejected and the reasons were set out over the signature of the authorised magistrate J.M. Millege on 10 December 1999.

I further note that claim 97/31003, and I quote from the stamped Victims Compensation Board document, states:

... deals with the alleged offender, John «Marsden» , who is alleged to have supplied drugs to the applicant and paid for mutual fellatio and had anal intercourse with Mr «Stals» . The alleged assaults occurred about 15—20 times when the applicant was 14 years old.

I further note that, in a judgment by Judge Coorey of the District Court of New South Wales criminal jurisdiction, in a decision reserved on 6 September 2000 and handed down on 27 October 2000, the taxpayers of New South Wales paid out $135,000 in compensation for successful appeals 139/00, 140/00, 141/00, 142/00 and 143/00. I note that appeal 141/00 refers to claim 97/31003 and the allegations against Mr John «Marsden» . I note that, in handing down his judgment, His Honour said:

I am satisfied that the five offenders referred to in appeals 139 to 143 of 2000, committed the assaults as described by the appellant. I accept, without hesitation, the evidence of Dr Quadrio in relation to the appellant's injuries and the prognosis.

I would like to raise five questions against the background of a recent high profile defamation action by Mr John «Marsden» in the Supreme Court of New South Wales: (1) is this compensation payment awarded by Judge Coorey a fraud on the taxpayers of New South Wales, (2) will the Crown take steps to recover this compensation payout from the former law society president, (3) is the silence and inaction by the Law Society of New South Wales a display of tacit support for its former president, (4) is the legal and judicial system in New South Wales hopelessly compromised, and (5) is the law simply an ass? Madam President, I seek leave to table a couple of documents: the judgment handed down by Judge Coorey on 27 October 2000 in the District Court of New South Wales, and the article that I have referred to in the Justinian magazine.

The PRESIDENT —Is leave granted?

Senator O'Brien —Madam President, leave will be granted for one of the two documents at this stage.

The PRESIDENT —I do not know which document is the one.

Senator O'Brien —The document for which we will grant leave is the judgment of Judge Coorey.

Leave granted.

The PRESIDENT —Have you finished your remarks, Senator?

Senator O'Brien —No. I have explained to Senator «Heffernan» that, at this stage, we will not grant leave for the tabling of the other document that he described. This document refers to proceedings that are afoot in the Supreme Court of New South Wales and are, to some extent, sub judice. It contains material that may be defamatory, but I did indicate that we would consider our position further and give him a considered response tomorrow on his proposal to table this document.