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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 2 Hansard (2 March) . . Page.. 464..


MRS CROSS (continuing):

cannot afford such an indulgence if we are genuine about protecting the rights of the majority of the community in time of heightened threat.

Allow me to comment further on how we should be adjusting the balance between rights and responsibilities. Late last year, Premier Carr took his usual non-ethereal approach to the obligation he has to try to protect the rights of the broad community against white-anting by narrowly focused rights activism by putting through a batch of legislative changes that have tipped the scales towards individual responsibilities instead of almost blatant individual rights. It will be gratefully welcomed by the people who for some time have thirsted for a government to take this bull by the horns. In practice, this means that the sort of activism-riddled legal environment that will be created by this proposed legislation before the ACT Assembly, is not the legal environment that is sought by the people in general.

One final thing is a question. Where in all the words of this proposal and the effusive claims being made for its urgent implementation can we find the evidence of so many transgressions against rights in the ACT in recent years that this proposed legislation is seen as essential? In a recent letter Bishop George Browning wrote:

The proposers of the Bill have done little or nothing...to explain what wrong is being righted by the Bill, or indeed in what way citizens of Canberra will be better off or more secure...after the Bill has passed.

He went on:

...it is the responsibility of Government to indicate what gains are so overwhelmingly obvious as to necessitate the Bill being placed before the Parliament.

If the evidence is not enough to confirm that this legislation is essential to the legislative health of the ACT, it should not be proceeded with and the Assembly should address itself to matters of a less self-indulgent nature. We need to maintain and strengthen our liberal democratic society by clawing it back from the libertarians who would ultimately turn our society on its head and weaken it. On this point I quote Bishop George Browning again, when he says:

Let me move to the relationship between legislation and litigation. It would take a great deal of convincing most in society that legislation and litigation don't relate closely, especially legislation that is aimed at strengthening the position of the individual at the expense of the community.

I share that view of what the majority thinks, despite the Chief Minister's claim last November that this bill is a carefully crafted bill and has been the subject of extensive consultation in the community. I don't know what the phrase "extensive consultation"means any more. I wonder if the extensive consultation regarding this bill was greater than the extensive community consultation undertaken over the Karralika rehabilitation centre or over the siting of the new ACT prison near Jerrabomberra. I ask a final related question. What level of regard was given to the rights of ACT citizens who would inevitably be adversely affected by those planned developments? From what I have seen, their rights to proper consultation were dismissed, but it seems that some rights count


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