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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 12 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 3725..


MR QUINLAN (continuing):

DR FOSKEY: I would like to take all of my 10 minutes and I would really appreciate your keeping the heckling down. The Prime Minister said at the stage he released the rather vague proposal, "I am releasing the details of our proposal at this time to allow detailed work with state and territory officials to commence as soon as possible and to give state and territory leaders ample opportunity to consider"—I emphasise the word "consider"—"the proposals in advance of the COAG meeting on 27 September."The word "consider"was used there. Some state and territory governments consider with the people that elect them. Some federal governments apparently want to leave out those voices.

In a very timely speech to the Isaacs Law Society ball—I did not know that speeches were given at balls; I assume that is was very early in the piece—Justice Higgins made some statements that showed that Mr Stanhope's action might have some backing in the judiciary as well. He said:

If we don't ask the hard, politically unpopular questions, how will we guard against administrative oversight and prevent similar future tragedies?

He also said:

We must be wary of laws that undermine the very democratic freedoms we are seeking to protect from terrorism: terrorism laws must serve to protect all Australians, they must not bow to the pressures of collective fear. Now, just as ever, we need to pay attention to the human rights implications of legal developments.

Last Saturday, Alan Ramsey did us a favour when he detailed what happened in the Senate when Senator Hill, who is the government Senate leader, indicated at the moment of adjournment that the federal government, in the next sitting on 31 October, would be putting the new anti-terrorism bill before the house. Ramsey said:

What Hill was signalling ... was a Senate inquiry—including a written report—restricted to, at most, eight days or, effectively, three days only.

Hill made a three-minute speech in support of his announcement, offered his "regret"that there had been "very little consultation"...

He quickly left the chamber then as, of course, everyone else thought his behaviour was reprehensible. That means that Senator Hill should be very pleased that we are now having that discussion that he regretted that we were unable to have. Some people on the hill might be glad to have this discussion. It would be politically very unpopular legislation.

Mr Smyth, who moved the motion, for which I thank him, implied in his speech that no-one can change their mind, even when fuller information becomes available. That, to me, is the sign of a very limited approach and a closed mind that will not learn, that will not adjust opinions in response to good evidence. The legislation is now before us. We can now judge it and talk about it. Is the ACT embarrassed? More than anything, this shows me that people talk to the people who tell them what they want to hear. Most of the people whose letters I read in the papers—today's Sydney Morning Herald is just full


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