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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3170..


MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Let me make the point that the survey indicates that the government, as well as working on the long-term health of the economy in the ACT, has not lost sight of the short term. We do have small business programs in place-

Mr Smyth: Renamed, rebadged.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Quinlan, resume your seat for a moment, please. Mr Smyth, I have asked you to maintain order on two or three occasions. I would ask you to desist from interjecting while questions are being answered.

MR QUINLAN: Mr Speaker, I will not take up much more time because I think the point has been well made. You can usually confirm that a point is well made when you start to get squeals from the other side of the house. We do have a suite of small business programs in place.

I have had the pleasure of participating in the awarding of certificates for some of the programs that we have run and of meeting people in small business in the ACT who have a very positive view of what we are doing for them and have a very positive view of what we have done with the knowledge fund, the proof of concept grants, the industry development grants and the equity investment in which we will involve ourselves. We have included in the budget the development of Partners Canberra, which will be the next exciting step forward in a strategic approach to building the economy in the ACT, and not before time.

Bill of rights

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Attorney-General. I refer him to an opinion piece by the New South Wales Solicitor-General, Michael Sexton, that appeared in the Australian Financial Review on 22 August. It relates, Chief Minister, to your social experiment to create a bill of rights in the ACT, creating nebulous rights such as the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to the highest attainable standard of living. The Solicitor-General for New South Wales states:

This has the potential to unleash a tidal wave of litigation against public authorities by persons complaining that some government action has, for example, lowered their standard of living or affected their health care. It also cuts directly across legislation being enacted by all states and territories to limit the liability of government bodies, corporations and individuals for claims of negligence.

Attorney, why are you implementing a bill of rights to create the potential for a tidal wave of litigation against the ACT government when this house has just passed significant legislation reforming the torts law that has the opposite effect?

MR STANHOPE: I thank the shadow attorney for the question. I'm more than happy to talk about a bill of rights and its significance. I'm grateful to Mr Stefaniak for giving me the opportunity to do that.

Certainly, Mr Sexton, a New South Wales official, has a view about a bill of rights. There are a range of views within the community around a bill of rights and, indeed, about human rights and about the importance of recognising, articulating and


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