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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 4181..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The community as a whole is now in a position that it has never before been in. We are proud of our record. We are more than happy to campaign on it in the run-up to the next election.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: The minister's time has expired.

MR STEFANIAK (5.22): Might I firstly tell the Chief Minister that even the opposition is not alleging that your government is totally hopeless. We are just simply talking about failures-and they are significant, as my colleagues have said-in the areas listed in the motion. So, to start with, it would help if you read the motion. It does not mean you are totally hopeless. If that were the case, we would not have supported some of the legislation that has gone through. But there have been some very significant failures, as indicated today by my colleagues.

I will indicate a couple of areas which have probably not been touched on terribly much to date. A lot of legislation that goes through this place-about 80 per cent of it-is usually agreed on. It is non-contentious stuff. But there has been some contentious stuff, and some of the most contentious legislation that has gone through related to social experimentation by this government. It is very different to what other Labor governments around the country, or indeed even federally, have done. We have spoken about this before and have indicated that we will repeal some of this experimental social legislation.

It may well be that things like same sex adoption, industrial manslaughter and union right of entry do not affect a hell of a lot of people. That is true. It is also true that there probably is not a huge amount of interest out there in the general community about things such as the Human Rights Act. However, this is very important legislation and I think this government, driven by its own pet projects and ideological agendas, has failed in this respect. It has passed legislation in an area where other Labor governments have feared to tread.

Although the act has just started to operate, I have already heard of a number of problems that have been raised not just by lay people-I do not think terribly many lay people are remotely aware of what it actually means-but by lawyers, who are indicating that the act, even in its present truncated form, is going to cause significant problems to the ACT. It is going to cause a lot of needless litigation, it is going to be very costly to government and it is going to lead to judicial activism.

Only recently the Scrutiny of Bills Committee heard that two of our Supreme Court judges, sitting in the Court of Appeal, had attempted to bring in and act on the Kable doctrine, which very much involved judicial activism. Although they did not push it in the matter they were dealing with, it was raised. I think inevitably we will see a lot of unintended consequences-perhaps unintended from the government and others-that will naturally flow from the enactment of this type of legislation and which will lead to considerable angst and extra expense in our community. Far from promoting and helping persons' rights in our community, the act will actually detract from the rights of most normal, ordinary, law abiding citizens.


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