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Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Page: 2109

Mr MURPHY (5:09 PM) —I would like to make a couple of small contributions and support my colleague, the member for Bowman. On a positive note and in a spirit of bipartisanship, I accept that there was a lot of good material in the first volume of the committee's report, but I think I need to place some other things on the record in this debate.

As the chair knows, when she rang me on Thursday, 22 July—after I had left her some four hours earlier at lunchtime—to say there was going to be a meeting later that night I did not think there was any justification for that meeting, notwithstanding the chair's advice to me that the Attorney-General had issued an embargoed press release in relation to jettisoning the bankruptcy bill. My concern in relation to that matter was amplified when at 20 minutes to 12, as the member for Barton and I participated in a telephone hook-up of that meeting, my mobile phone rang and I was advised that Tony Delroy on ABC radio had just broadcast that details from the very report we were discussing were going to be on page 1 of the next day's Financial Review. I informed the chair and the members of the committee who were participating in that meeting. That was clearly high farce and it certainly brought the work of the committee into disrepute.

The other point I need to make is this: how on earth were we expected to consider the first part of the draft report of the inquiry into crime in the dead of the night—at three minutes past midnight? It was like being hit with a medicine ball, and yet we were expected to make a valuable contribution. There was an opportunity for all of us in a bipartisan way to make a very valuable contribution to a lot of the good work that was done—and that included the chair of the committee.

It is sad that we had to take that unprecedented step and resign from the committee. We did not want to do it. I note the point made by the member for Mackellar that there was contrivance. I ask, through you, Mr Deputy Speaker: what else could we do? When has anyone been given about five hours notice to have a meeting in the dead of the night to discuss something that had been going on for 2½ years and then have to sign off on it? There was no justification for that whatsoever.

Mr Cox —It was after a Liberal Party fundraiser, wasn't it, John?

Mr MURPHY —I do not know what was going on at the royal suite of the Stamford Plaza Hotel on that night, but I was terribly disappointed with that because there were many good moments during that inquiry. We have not had the opportunity to have a look at the second volume, but that is fair enough. We resigned from that committee because we did not feel we could legitimise the inquiry any further. I want to strongly support recommendation 1 of this report. I hope that whoever chairs the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs after the next election follows the exemplary conduct of the member for Menzies.

Debate (on motion by Mr Slipper) adjourned.