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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008-2009 Week 1 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 215..


MRS DUNNE (continuing):

Mr Doszpot yesterday spoke about the experience of his family under a despotic Soviet regime. His family and those like his family were not protected by the declarations of human rights that underpinned the Russian occupiers of Hungary. It did not save people from the gulags, it did not save people from the pogroms and it did not save people from the enforced famines that we saw in the Ukraine.

What is important about Ms Bresnan's motion today is that it reminds us that the most important thing about ensuring the furtherance of human rights is that we adopt the culture, the mindset that the benefit of our people is first and foremost. To echo what Ms Bresnan said in her opening remarks, we must be constantly vigilant. We cannot just sit back and say, "We've got a piece of legislation; everything is fine and dandy."If we are not constantly vigilant, no piece of legislation, by itself, will protect the human rights of the people of the ACT or of any other jurisdiction.

MR DOSZPOT (Brindabella) (3.14): I stand to support the motion by Ms Bresnan. I listened to her explain in detail her rationale, and I support her wholeheartedly. Mrs Dunne just mentioned her family. My family was the same. I spoke only yesterday about the issues that face refugees and people from various countries who are fleeing their country because of persecution—religious, political, whatever. We do have to give them the compassion and the understanding that they are missing in their own areas.

Can I also say, in regard to the affirmation of human rights, paragraph (5) of the motion states:

affirms that the advent of a world in which human beings will enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want is the highest aspiration of the common people.

Paragraph (6) states:

declares its own faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women.

Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to the fact that it is okay for us—and it seems that we are—to be very selective in the way that we are applying some of these human rights even in this Assembly. I am a very new member of this Assembly. I came here on the understanding that we do have rights to speak about issues that we believe in without being ridiculed for those very issues. Yet we are in a position where members opposite have been ridiculing one of our members for having dared to express a certain point of view. I would like to see where human rights declare that you have every right to be afforded dignity and worth, as long as you speak of our values.

I think it is very appropriate that we also have a look at the way we act and we deal with matters in this Assembly at a time when we are debating a very important anniversary—the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I know I am skirting the topic fractionally, but I do believe that something we ought to consider is the way that this Assembly conducts itself.


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