Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 2 Hansard (2 March) . . Page.. 536..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
These rights are lovely if you can obtain them, Ms Dundas. So are the yellow brick road and fairyland, but they do not work in practice. A lot of countries that have more recently gone down the-in some instances unnecessary-path of a human rights act at least had the sense not to go as far as you propose to, with amendments such as these.
MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (8.29): The government won't support these proposals of Ms Dundas, a decision the government has made with some regret. I am aware of the support of the consultative committee for the inclusion within the Human Rights Act of the rights that are contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. As you will be aware from our response, in the context of the Social Plan we have committed the ACT government to incorporating those rights through that particular non-legislative commitment to economic, social and cultural rights.
I remain very much alive to the desirability at a later date of incorporating economic, social and cultural rights into the Human Rights Act. I see that as one of the building blocks that we may in time choose to incorporate. I have taken the attitude in relation to this bill that we need to establish a rights regime, we need to take this first step, we need to establish our mechanisms and we need to institute the necessary education, training and change within government-certainly within decision making-in relation to the range of rights that are set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights before we take the next step of incorporating economic, social and cultural rights into ACT law.
We need to do some additional work on the potential resource implications for the territory of incorporating into the legislation that further raft of rights. It potentially provides exciting future possibilities for us as a jurisdiction. I am more than happy to commit a second Labor government to a consideration of the implications of proceeding to incorporate some of those rights into the law of the ACT.
In response to some of the comments of the shadow Attorney, it is relevant that we acknowledge that South Africa has incorporated the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights into its bill of rights. That is constitutionally entrenched. Of course, there are significant social and economic differences between South Africa and the ACT, and I think those differences need to be taken into account.
It is not appropriate that we look at the extent of the judicial interpretation by the South African courts of the economic, social and cultural rights in that nation, but some interesting judgments, decisions and interpretations are now being developed internationally, perhaps most significantly through the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa. They give us some guidance but, because of the significant differences, essentially economic, that exist and the differences that are so stark between life in South Africa and life in the ACT, we have to look with some caution at that precedent and at some of those judgments that are being established in South Africa.
A nation to which we might appropriately compare ourselves is the United Kingdom-as I mentioned before-the mother of the common law, which in its wisdom has acknowledged that the common law no longer deals adequately or appropriately with human rights. This point needs to be made in the context of the slavish commitment to