Tuesday 8 November 2011

Hansard of the Legislative Council


Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - That is exactly what I was going to say, Madam President. Yes, we are spending a lot of time on this motion. I recall the offer to apprise honourable members of the Solicitor-General's advice. We initially refused that because some honourable members wanted, and still want, that advice to become a public document, as motion 10 details. We are entitled to know the Solicitor-General's advice so we can make a decision on how to proceed, but I do not believe that we are entitled to parade that advice. Indeed, I do not think there is any real reason to make it public. I believe that publicising legal advice such as this is more in the political interests of some members of this Parliament than in the public interest. With both parties represented in this House it could be said that some political point-scoring is going on and I do not think that is needed in the Legislative Council.

The Premier's argument, as we have heard, is that the advice is protected by legal professional privilege and cabinet confidentiality. The Premier argued that if there was anything to hide then briefings on the advice would not have been offered. This may be true. The Government does not want to create a precedent where all future or perhaps present legal advice would become public and any opposition happening to govern in the future should be aware of this. Any government will find it difficult to govern without legal professional privilege and cabinet confidentiality. Governments around Australia and beyond rely on these two privacy measures. Otherwise, decision-making would become hamstrung. Decision-making is what the elected Government, whatever its form, is about. I therefore cannot support this motion in the public interest, in the interests of the Westminster system of government and in the interests of commonsense.