MEMBER FOR WAKEHURST: INHERITANCE
Dr REFSHAUGE: My question without notice is directed to the Attorney General, Minister for Consumer Affairs, and Minister for Arts. When did the Minister become aware that the honourable member for Wakehurst was the sole beneficiary of Mrs Kitty Lawson's million dollar estate? Was this the reason the Minister refused to pay the honourable member's legal costs arising out of the Metherell affair? Will he order a full review of this case and seek an inquiry by the Minister for Police?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Broken Hill to order.
Mr COLLINS: The honourable member for Wakehurst raised the matter with me a couple of days ago, when it became evident that the "7.30 Report" proposed to do a story on this matter. I saw that story go to air last night, as did officers of my department. I am advised that nothing emerged from the "7.30 Report" last night which suggested any improper conduct on the part of the honourable member for Wakehurst and no evidence has been advanced which would suggest the need for me to take any action whatsoever as Attorney General. Also I would remind honourable members that, under the Legal Profession Act, it is open to any person to make a complaint if it is believed that a barrister or solicitor has engaged in professional misconduct or unsatisfactory professional conduct. That complaint, of course, should be made to the Law Society. There were two supplementary parts to the question. As I recall, the answers are no and no, to each of these. The first supplementary question was: was this a matter I took into account in relation to the decision which I made? I want to say to the House now that the decision I made was one which I took totally independently and irrespective of any political outcome that it might have. I acted totally independently.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Smithfield to order.
Mr COLLINS: I am pleased with the resolution of that issue which was offered last week by the honourable member for Wakehurst. It is not easy for an Attorney General to take a decision which obviously reflects adversely on any of his colleagues. It was a decision that grieved me considerably and I am delighted that the honourable member for Wakehurst has been totally cleared by the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry. I am delighted also with the honourable member's decision last Thursday to drop further consideration of any claim he may wish to pursue. In doing so, the honourable member for Wakehurst has put the public interest above his own. I have already given an answer to the third question as to what action should be taken. The answer to that part of the question was no. If honourable members have any information that they believe should be inquired into -
Dr Refshauge: On a point of order. Obviously the Minister did not hear the final part of the question which was whether he will seek a police inquiry from the Minister for Police and Emergency Services.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! No point of order is involved.
Mr COLLINS: That churlish point of order, typical of all points taken by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, really emphasises what this question is all about. I did hear the question and, as I said, the answer is: no. I repeat that if honourable members have any information they wish to bring to the attention of the appropriate authority, the Law Society of New South Wales is the body to which that information should be addressed. It would be completely improper to involve the police at this stage. To my knowledge no such information has been brought to the attention of the Law Society.