The Hon. Rob Lucas MLC

The Hon

Rob Lucas MLC

Treasurer

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Abraham slams Rann Government claim as offensive

Thursday, 22 September 2005

Former Director of Public Prosecutions (Acting) Wendy Abraham QC has today rejected as ‘offensive’ claims made by the Rann Government in relation to her decision to prosecute former senior Rann Government adviser Randall Ashbourne, Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today.
Senior Rann Government Minister Paul Holloway recently made the extraordinary suggestion that Ms Abraham’s decision had been driven by anger at the Rann Government’s actions on the Nemer case:

“In relation to those matters, Mr Walter, you would be well aware that this decision to prosecute, which was made at the end of August when the decision was announced, came (and I know it very well, because I was the acting attorney-general at the time) in the immediate aftermath of the Nemer case, where there had been significant criticism of my role in directing the DPP’s office. There was a lot of hostility from the DPP’s office toward the government over that matter. Do you believe that that in any way had a part in these processes?”
Paul Holloway, Select Committee Hansard, 8 September 2005

At today’s Upper House Select Committee meeting, Ms Abraham described that suggestion by Mr Holloway as ‘offensive’ and totally rejected any suggestion that the decision had been made on anything other than the proper basis.

“It is now clear that the Rann Government has been caught out in another attempt to undermine the public standing of the Office of the DPP,” Mr Lucas said today.

Ms Abraham also today expressed strong concern at the decision taken by Premier Rann, Deputy Premier Foley and Attorney-General Atkinson not to refer the issue immediately to the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) of the South Australia Police when they were first advised of the issue in November 2002.

Ms Abraham indicated that the prosecution case had been made more difficult by Mr Rann’s decision to not refer the issue to the ACB and also by Mr Rann’s decision to appoint the CEO of his Department to conduct an ‘in-house’ inquiry.

“The failure to refer did make it more difficult, because witnesses did have to rely on notes to refresh their memory, whereas if statements had been taken at the time obviously the conversations would have been fresh in their memory.”
Wendy Abraham QC, Select Committee Hansard, 22 September 2005

Ms Abraham was also scathing in her criticism of the Auditor-General and strongly disagreed with his legal interpretation of a number of critical issues:

“On reading the evidence of Mr MacPherson, there are a number of disturbing features about his conclusion and his view as to his role in the criminal justice system … It is particularly disturbing that having made the decision he did, having prejudged the issue, he seems to hold the view that he has somewhere or somehow the power and, indeed, the authority and the right to examine the processes of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Of course, all the evidence he gave was against the background that he failed to refer this matter to the police in 2002. The DPP decision that there was a reasonable prospect of conviction reflects upon his failure to do so.”
Wendy Abraham QC, Select Committee Hansard, 22 September 2005
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