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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 12 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 3750..


MR STANHOPE: I am not aware that I am. I must say that I do not seek to compare myself with anybody else and I am not quite sure of the comparisons that you make between me and those of my colleagues that you refer to, but I am not aware that I am generally or remarkably out of step. I certainly have a particular position in relation to human rights. I do not think that anybody is in any doubt about that.

One of the proud legacies of the last four years of this government in the ACT is the extent to which we as a government have been prepared to grapple with a range of issues in relation to which we would be prepared to pursue progressive law reform to an extent that governments around Australia have not. I do not know whether that is to suggest in a negative way that we are out of step. I am proud of those achievements. I am proud of those achievements as the Chief Minister of a Labor government in the ACT and I am proud and will always be proud of the law reform that has been a hallmark of the last four years of the ACT Assembly. It is a legacy that will endure the test of time.

That, of course, revolves around our commitment to human rights as encapsulated in the Human Rights Act, the only legislated bill of rights in Australia. I have a strong position of support, as I have had all my working life, for human rights. It is a position I will maintain. It is a position in relation to which I am well-known in this community and for which I have not been afraid to campaign. I have campaigned in three elections consecutively in the ACT on a progressive law reform agenda as somebody committed to civil liberties and human rights and my vote just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Mrs Burke: So does your head.

MR STANHOPE: My vote gets bigger and bigger and yours gets smaller and smaller. To that extent, I do not mind being out of step. Nobody in Canberra is under any illusions or misapprehension about my commitment or this government's commitment to human rights and civil liberties. They are under no illusions. They know what we think. They know what we stand for and they know that we are prepared to stand up and pursue our principles in relation to these issues. They know that we are prepared to stand up and pursue these issues. If that means that we are out of step with the rest of Australia, so be it. But if you expect me to feel in some way that it is a negative reflection either on me or on my government that this government is out of step with other governments round Australia, I simply have to beg to differ with you. This is something out of step of which I am quite proud.

To conclude, so as not to be misrepresented on this point, it might be fair to describe this government as a government that is out of step. I think that is reflected through the law reform that has been pursued by this place, essentially through the Labor Party. One starts with the decriminalisation of abortion, our commitment to remove discrimination against gays and lesbians, the fact that we stood up on industrial manslaughter, that we have introduced a human rights act, that we stand up and are prepared to argue for balance in our response to terrorism. These are steps that we have taken, steps of which I am enormously proud and will be for all my life, but we are not out of step with the values of our colleagues round Australia or with other governments. We have simply progressed a raft of law reform in a range of areas that they have not sought to do.


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