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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 2 Hansard (4 March) . . Page.. 379..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Tax Amendment Bill to the Assembly, and I thank members for their contributions and support.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Human Rights Amendment Bill 2007

Debate resumed from 6 December 2007, on motion by Mr Corbell:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (11.25): The Liberal Party will be supporting particular elements of this bill. On behalf of the opposition I will be moving some amendments to it later. We are doing this in part because we believe it is more appropriate for the comprehensive review of the act to take place prior to amendments being made.

The Human Rights Amendment Bill seeks to introduce a range of elements to clarify interpretive rules, clarify the reasonable limits clause, provide a direct right of action against public authorities and expand the obligation to notify the Attorney-General and the Humans Rights Commissioner of legal proceedings in the Supreme Court in which the HRA is to be argued.

I briefly outline the intent of the substantive sections of the bill. Section 4 outlines the factors that must be considered in deciding whether human rights may be limited, including the nature of the right affected, the importance of the purpose of the limitation, the nature and extent of the limitation, and any less restrictive means reasonably available to achieve the purpose the limitation seeks to achieve.

The amendment is modelled on legislation of Victoria and South Africa and is intended to provide guidance in the application of the existing general limitation provision and to reduce its uncertainty. The effect will be to reflect what is known as a proportionality test, a test that has been applied in the UK, Canada and New Zealand.

An attachment to a letter dated 25 November 2005 from the ACT Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner to Senator Payne, the then chair of the Senate legal and constitutional legislation committee explained that the test, and I quote:

... involves two closely related concepts. First to be 'demonstrably justified in a democratic society', there must be a legitimate objective, that is one of sufficient importance to justify overriding human rights. Secondly the measure must be proportional.


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