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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 1218..



it centred on the death of a young member of the Aboriginal community in particularly tragic circumstances. There is no doubt emotions were running high and would have escalated in violence should it not have been managed in a sensitive manner.

The ceremonial smoking fire at the protest had been ignited using embers from the sacred fire located on the lawns of Old Parliament House, the site of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. The protest, consequently, had particular sensitivities with regard to Aboriginal cultural issues. The Police Aboriginal Liaison Officer was engaged to negotiate the peaceful extinguishment/control of the ceremonial smoking fire.

To bring down the full force of the law was assessed as likely to have reinforced negative ideas about police/Aboriginal relationships. It would have created a violent confrontation that was neither desired nor necessary.

In this regard the Incident Commander elected to exercise common law discretion not to take overt action and to maintain a considered management approach to the situation that:

1. recognised the protestor group's democratic right to protest;

2. maintained the peace and order; and

3. respected the culture of the protest group.

The ceremonial smoking fire was monitored by police and fire brigade personnel at all times to ensure that it was wholly contained and set in a location that was free of flammable materials that may cause the fire to spread.

(a) The laws of the Australian Capital Territory are there for the conduct of all persons. Common law permits discretion in their enforcement when those laws are viewed in the context of the 'whole-of-circumstance'.

(b) This question has been more fully explored in the answers provided above.

(c) and (d)

Legislation authored by the Australian Parliament, differentiates between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and persons from a non-Aboriginal background, in much the same way as it acknowledges the cultural intricacies and sensitivities of other cultural groups'. Legislation has been drafted to take into consideration that Aboriginal people come from a different cultural base, and that this cultural base must be acknowledged and respected.

Aged care facilities

(Question No 1305)

Mr Cornwell asked the Chief Minister, upon notice, on 2 March 2004:

1. Is the Government looking to develop the O'Connell Education Centre at Griffith and the Joint Emergency Services Centre at Curtin as aged care facilities;

2. If so (a) how many aged care beds will be available at each site(b) how far has planning progressed and (c) who will manage each facility;

3. Have the local communities been consulted; if not, why not;

4. When is a public announcement expected


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