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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (10 February) . . Page.. 140..


MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

definition of marriage and a number of other definitions from that legislation, but we did not think there was much of a problem with the substance of what was done.

MR SPEAKER: You would not be about to reflect on a vote of the Assembly, would you?

MR STEFANIAK: No, I will certainly try not to do that, Mr Speaker, but fundamentally this follows on from that earlier legislation, so I refer to that debate simply to show what this bill is doing. We do not have any problems with that and I think few people do.

However, there are a number of areas in this bill where we do have some problems, where other people have problems or where matters are being drawn to our attention. I will speak about those at greater length in the detail stage. I will just concentrate on some of those issues now. Some problems have been mentioned to me in relation to the Commonwealth Evidence Act provisions being lifted. There are some real concerns about that. I think the government should look more carefully at that matter, to take into account the concerns expressed by a very experienced lawyer and practitioner in Canberra.

Some further concerns were expressed in the scrutiny of bills report which, admittedly, I did not necessarily see to start with. Again, because of those, I do not think that that part of the bill should be supported. More work has to be done there and perhaps generally in relation to that whole field of provocation. There are also some obvious problems in relation to the baths act. I will speak in greater detail on that later. We have amendments to that.

There is one other area which the opposition looked at very closely and that is gay vilification. We do not have an amendment for that clause, which is clause 66 of this bill. This bill adds that clause to a list which is currently in the Discrimination Act. That is something at which we all need to look very carefully. I think we should avoid letting our ideological views run rampant by creating legislation that is never going to be used. That has been the case, for example, since the racial vilification legislation came in. That shows what a great, tolerant society the ACT has. I can recall when that law was made and, yes, a lot of ideology was involved and a lot has been said about it.

There are a lot of other laws and offences that can be used and should be used which would negate the need for such legislation. When no convictions have been made, no offences have occurred and no charges have been laid under a piece of legislation, we should look at it. Remember, that legislation has been there since 1991. Now, vilification on the grounds of sexuality is being added to it.

I do not have amendments to the bill but I make those points because the opposition has decided that it should. Vilification laws are something I do not particularly like because we do have other laws in this country, such as the Crimes Act, under which, if people go over the top, they can be charged for whatever particularly nasty thing they do. I know the government often makes the point that we do not need these laws.

Interestingly enough, in response to my concerns about getting rid of sections 18 and 30 of the baths act, one of the comments made was, "If anything goes wrong, they can be charged under the criminal law."You cannot have the argument both ways. If that is the


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