Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 2675..
MR CONNOLLY (continuing):
intense debate that occupied a couple of days in the Assembly. We adjourned the process, and Mr Moore put very strong arguments which were rejected by the Government and the Opposition. There could not have been a clearer case where the will of the legislature was expressed. It was expressed in the explanatory memorandum that Mr Humphries quoted from, but it was expressed equally clearly in the speeches that were made both on behalf of the Government and on behalf of the Opposition.
I am very concerned that in this Territory we have got to a point where a narrow grammatical construction has been preferred to the clear will of the Assembly, and in an environment where the whole legitimacy of self-government is still an issue in the Territory. Officers who are charged with the responsibility of interpreting the laws of this place really ought to consider that this is a parliament with broadly sovereign powers in relation to matters relating to the peace, order and good government of the Territory under the self-government Act and that under the Interpretation Act they are responsible for looking at and divining the will of this place. For a court to prefer a narrow grammatical interpretation to the clear will of this Assembly invites this Assembly to do exactly what Mr Humphries has properly done, and that is at the first opportunity legislate to correct the situation.
It would be regrettable for the good government of the Territory if we got into a cycle on this sort of thing and had to rush amendments through in order to correct the situation when tribunals, magistrates or superior court judges prefer strict grammatical interpretations based on the presence or absence of a comma to the clearly expressed will of the parliament. The Opposition strongly supports, and indeed commends, the Government for quickly bringing forward legislation which clears up what was clearly the intention of this place.
Amendments agreed to.
Bill, as a whole, as amended, agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Debate resumed from 23 November 1995, on motion by Mr Humphries:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
MR CONNOLLY (4.26): The Opposition is supporting the Government proposals in this legislation. As the Attorney-General indicated in his presentation speech, the history of classifications in Australia is a rather complex and messy one. It is probably the worst example of Commonwealth-State cooperation. For decades now Ministers have sat around and agreed that we should adopt a uniform approach to the classification of