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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1605..


MRS DUNNE (continuing):

I want to resubmit clause 40 with a view to deleting subclause 40 (3) which takes away from the Assembly, and in some ways the ACT parliament, the power to fix the expiry date in subclause 2, which is 5 April next year. If COAG so decides, it can bring forward that expiry date. We have just passed this legislation with a view that there will be a sunset clause in a year's time. However, the next time COAG meets, if this matter is on the agenda, COAG can decide to bring forward that date without reference to this Assembly again.

Our is a sovereign parliament. We should be taking this role. If we want to bring forward the date, and if COAG wants us to bring forward the date, I believe-and I think that most responsible legislators should believe-this is something that should come back to us. You do not say, "Bob Carr and Steve Bracks have twisted my arm and I have had to agree to it."I do not think that this is the way we serve the people of the ACT. We are a sovereign parliament and we should make these decisions for ourselves.

With the best will in the world, COAG should not run the ACT. It sounds like a states' or territories' rights argument, and I suppose it is. We choose to join together to form COAG. We cooperate with COAG but we should still maintain sovereignty and make the laws in the ACT. I commend to members the deletion of subclause 40 (3), so that any decision to bring forward the expiry date will be a decision of this parliament.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (11.15): Mr Speaker, Mrs Dunne should remember that any form of intergovernmental agreement is subject, of course, to the intergovernmental agreements act in this place, which requires the relevant minister to advise all members of his or her intention to enter into an agreement on behalf of the territory with other states and territories and/or the Commonwealth. So there is a level of scrutiny of, and an opportunity for members to comment on the appropriateness or otherwise of entering into, such an agreement. Mrs Dunne's argument is somewhat weakened by those circumstances.

Mr Hargreaves has kindly pointed out to me that this relates to the Administration (Interstate Agreements) Act. Nevertheless, I think members will understand what I am saying.

The other issue that members should keep in mind, of course, is that the purpose of this clause is to allow for the achievement of a nationally consistent approach prior to the other sunset clauses that are outlined in this bill. It allows for uniform succession to a new national arrangement governing the use of excess embryos and that is entirely appropriate. You would not want a situation where a loophole existed in the ACT that did not exist in all other states and territories in Australia.

Mrs Dunne's argument is not a strong one. There are sufficient checks and there is enough scrutiny of the executive's role in entering into agreements on the part of the territory. There is also a very strong argument against her suggestion-it may create a loophole in the ACT that may not exist in other states and territories.

MRS DUNNE (11.18): I want to inform members that the South Australian legislation specifically took out the reference that is in subclause 40 (3), the reference to COAG, so


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