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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 2 Hansard (2 March) . . Page.. 503..


MRS DUNNE (continuing):

needs questions in estimates, it needs questions in legislatures, it needs people to read annual reports and it needs people to read committee reports. It requires bloody hard work, and it does not mean standing up in this place and talking about fashionable slogans like advocacy for the disadvantaged when you do not even notice that actual people you're directly responsible for may be in grave danger.

This is what we are talking about. We are talking about people. I worry about those people opposite when they start talking about humanity with a capital "h"and human rights. It becomes a bit of an abstraction. It is like talking about "the people"in communist societies. It is a characteristic of those on the left that they care compassionately about humanity with a capital "h"; it is just the people they do not like. This Chief Minister is happy to invest massive resources in grand gestures on behalf of humanity and in defence of human rights. He just is not interested in people whose homes are threatened, in children in the care of the government, in constituents who vainly try and get an appointment. Where in this bill are there rights of children in the care of the government to be protected as the law already says they are?

Ms Gallagher: That's covered in another piece of legislation.

MRS DUNNE: Where in this bill are the rights of people to be warned when their houses might burn down? Where in this bill are the rights of old people in hospitals who are in the wrong sort of accommodation for their needs to get the right sort of accommodation for their needs? This Chief Minister sees this as an act to be graven in stone, as his memorial, his gift to future generations. He sees himself as a sort of Moses of the enlightenment, standing with a series of "Though shalt nots". He is a sort of modern model of Shelley's Ozymandias:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings

Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair

Of course, those of us who know a bit about Shelley will recall what became of the proud boast by the time Shelley's traveller arrived: all that remained of the statue was a head and legs; an armless, heartless, gutless figure with a sneer and a pedestal.

What we have here today is not a recipe for a fixed moral code. Let us look at some of the amendments that the minister is proposing. Clause 8 is headed "Recognition and equality under the law". Does anyone seriously think that in Canberra in 2004 people do not have recognition and equality under the law? What element of the grandiose clause 8 of this bill will make our recognition and equality under the law more recognisable or more equal? Not one jot.

I have touched on the fundamental rights to life, but I have also looked at clauses 10 and 26 which talk about torture and being forced to work. What has this Chief Minister done over the past year on the issue of sexual servitude? When I raised it, and when it was raised by other people in this place and across the country, he joined the band of men across this country who said, "It does not really happen; it is anecdotal evidence; it is not a real issue. Of course, if it happened, we'd be horrified; but this is a nice middle-class country and this sort of thing does not happen."Well, that has been proved to be wrong.


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