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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 13 Hansard (15 November) . . Page.. 4171..


Mental health (continuing):

community-based support. Essentially, people were dumped and we have not yet caught up with that situation. Whilst the ACT had no institutions comparable to those found in the states, there is a local example of that because, when the Watson hostel was closed down, a number of people found themselves without adequate support.

There are good models. The South Australian government has implemented an approach that focuses on establishing long-term case management for people with a medical illness and it has a mental health court to apply the principles of therapeutic jurisprudence with a view to addressing health issues that lead to criminal behaviour. I have not yet heard that mentioned as an approach and we do have magistrates complaining that they do not have options when they have before them people whose problem is mental illness rather than criminal behaviour as such. There is a number of other models. I do not have time to go into them now, but I will refer to them on later occasions. I think that a tripartisan approach would ensure good outcomes.

Dismissal of Whitlam government

Appeal for clemency for Mr Van Tuong Nguyen

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (6.03): Mr Speaker, to follow up briefly on the remarks made by Mr Mulcahy, it is useful to reflect on the constitutionality of the actions of Sir John Kerr and also to reflect upon other instances when governors and governors-general have been forced to remove a Prime Minister or a premier from office. Sir Philip Game removed Jack Lang as the premier of New South Wales and Mr Lang was not returned at the next election. By contrast, Sir John Buchan, the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps, was forced as Governor-General in Canada to remove a Prime Minister who was returned at the subsequent election. So there is very much a constitutional precedent for what was done.

I turn to another matter of equal importance. As members of the Assembly will be aware, earlier this month I presented a petition to the Singaporean high commissioner calling on the republic's Prime Minister and cabinet to reconsider the decision not to commute the death sentence imposed on Australian citizen Mr Van Tuong Nguyen. This petition was signed by all members of the ACT Legislative Assembly and significant numbers of Assembly and political staff. I thank all members and staff of this Assembly for their cooperation and support in this very important matter.

The petition was offered and accepted as an appeal for clemency on purely humanitarian grounds and with due respect for the sovereignty of the Singaporean nation. As with similar petitions organised by our federal colleagues, this display of bipartisan concern, or tripartite concern, clearly demonstrated that, for all our differences, there are certain basic values which as Australians and representatives of the people of the ACT we all share. It is highly unlikely, sadly, that the Singaporean government will be swayed by any of our representations on Mr Nguyen's behalf, as the high commissioner made clear politely but firmly when we spoke. Singapore's hardline policy on drugs is not negotiable and is applied equally to everyone, regardless of circumstances or nationality.

That raises all sorts of issues with which, as members of the Assembly, we will be familiar. Some of them are essentially pragmatic. What sort of message, for example, does this case send about the wisdom of fully cooperating with the authorities, as Mr Nguyen did? Where there is no room for discretion, no differentiation between


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