Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . .
Monitoring of Places of Detention (Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture) Bill 2017
Debate resumed from 24 August 2017, on motion by Mr Rattenbury:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (12.13): I thank the Assembly for bringing this matter back for a vote. The interesting situation we are in is that we have a facility that obviously has a number of issues and concerns and it seems that not a week goes by where we do not have to deal with something going on in our corrections facilities that is less than ideal. However, the Canberra Liberals do not agree that the ACT Assembly should open itself up to an international body making requests of us at any point in time that we need to comply with.
The people of the ACT vote for a government here. If anybody sits above us, it is the federal parliament, and I think we even resist that to a large extent. Those who are elected here believe that to some extent we are growing up as a jurisdiction and taking responsibility for ourselves. Although many of the aspirations of the UN body may be very good and while there are plenty of matters which we could learn from or implement here, we do not believe it is appropriate to make ourselves permanently available to that international body. So we will not be supporting the bill.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Minister for Justice, Consumer Affairs and Road Safety, Minister for Corrections and Minister for Mental Health) (12.15): I am a little stunned. It is the most extraordinary response from the Canberra Liberals to reject a UN treaty that Australia has now ratified and that the commonwealth Liberal government has now ratified. The ACT is seeking to put in place the enabling legislation, and the Canberra Liberals cannot sign up to that because somehow we are more grown up than anybody else. So, despite the fact that this is a globally recognised treaty that has been signed up to by dozens of countries, Mrs Jones thinks the ACT is above it.
Mrs Jones: That is not what I said.
MR RATTENBURY: That is what has just happened. We are being told we do not need to allow the UN to come in and make these inspections if they ask to come. I am very surprised by that outcome and it is certainly not what I anticipated today.
I thank the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety performing its legislative scrutiny role for its helpful comments on the bill. As a result of those comments, a number of minor changes have been made to the explanatory statement. These include clarification that the strong provisions of the bill that protect individuals against reprisals for engaging with the UN subcommittee are necessary, justified and proportionate, notwithstanding that on rare occasions they may limit an individual's right to privacy. Furthermore, the explanatory statement has been clarified to note that whilst the bill has provisions that override inconsistent ACT laws that would limit the ability of the UN subcommittee to perform its functions, this does
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