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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 6 Hansard (5 May) . . Page.. 1923..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

I think it behoves the Chief Minister, if he is going to get up and make statements, to get his facts straight because I think their service is very special to them and it should be very special to us.

Later this year, in August, we will celebrate VJ Day, as it is known, Victory against Japan Day. Again, there will be some enormous celebrations here which I would ask people to join in. But I hope one of the things we get out of VJ Day this year will be-and I think it is time-a monument to be built to the Pacific theatre of operations; they are certainly overlooked in history.

The efforts of the 8th division in Malaya, where they always held up their end of the argument, although they were forced continually to retreat against the Japanese and were finally taken prisoner in Singapore; the efforts of the forces on the islands, the Gull and Sparrow forces, particularly the 39th infantry battalion on the Kokoda Trail and then the island campaign; the services of the navy, the services of the army, the air force and certainly the nursing corps need to be remembered. There is not a specific monument on Anzac Parade to the Pacific theatre of operation. I think, on their 60th anniversary, it would be an appropriate time for such a monument to be put in place.

Human rights

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (6.00): The ACT government may have been the first jurisdiction in Australia to pass human rights legislation. However, it obviously won't be the last. I would like to advise the Assembly that, in April, the Victorian Attorney-General, Rob Hulls, set up a consultative committee to consider how human rights might be better protected in that state. It is extremely encouraging and affirming to see other jurisdictions now exploring human rights issues. Mr Hulls is reported as saying:

Australia is the last developed nation to tackle the concept of human rights in a structured, formal way.

Mr Speaker, as you are aware, the ACT Human Rights Act has been in place now for about a year. Members probably remember the dire warnings and alarms raised by its critics prior to its introduction, such as courts being clogged with frivolous and vexatious matters, offenders dismissive of a system, politicians finding themselves constrained. The reality of course is that none of these dreadful consequences have come to pass.

What has happened, however, is what the Stanhope government has always intended to happen: we have seen growing consciousness of human rights at every stage at which the government interacts with Canberrans, to the benefit of us all. This is the sort of vision that encouraged me, as a long-time citizen and community activist, to run for public office and to seek a position in the Stanhope government. All existing legislation has now been examined to see that it complies with the act; administrative processes have been reformed; and all proposed legislation is now held up for scrutiny, as you are aware.

What has been the ACT's experience during the first year? Have we seen the negative outcomes as predicted? No, the results have been, and continue to be, very positive indeed. This government continues the process of better protecting the human rights of


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