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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 3171..


MS DUNDAS (continuing):

uphold the laws that we already have. In the next few days this legislation may become redundant. It is extremely bad law-making to change the law when a court questions a decision of government. The proper place to determine the meaning of laws is in a court, which performs that job every day.

This is an act of blatant desperation and political interference to keep dodging legal processes by changing any law that has been called into question. Just like the Gungahlin Drive Extension Authorisation Act, this piece of legislation is not required for the road to be built. All that is needed to build the road is for the government to obey the law. It is true that sometimes obeying the law takes longer than breaking it. This debate is not about whether or not we should build the road; it is about whether it is good government simply to change the law every time it inconveniences someone. There is no pressing question of law in this debate; it is about political expediency.

On the day that the ACT Human Rights Act becomes law the government will be setting a dangerous new precedent in ACT laws that will affect our relationship with the courts and the community. In the Gungahlin Drive Extension Authorisation Act the government eroded the appeal rights of Canberrans, even when laws were being broken, to further its own political ends. All the planning, consultation and scrutiny that protect the territory plan are now being thrown out the window in the pursuit of political advantage. When will it end? What will happen next? How many other rights will this government trample on and destroy in order to achieve its blatant political ends? When will the next project be implemented to strip away our systems of governance so that we can get something done a few weeks earlier? The project about which we are speaking is already two years late.

The ACT is heading down a very dangerous path with this legislation. I urge all members of the Assembly not to support it. I know that some members think this legislation is important and that it will facilitate the building of the Gungahlin Drive extension but they need to remember that a court is looking at the issues that are being debated today. There is no need to rush through this piece of legislation. It is a shame that it is occurring. It is shameful that this kind of law is being picked up by the Assembly and passed quickly, with no-one scrutinising its impact or determining what precedents it will be setting. There has been no community consultation or participation in this process. The community needs to know that our legal systems are working.

Last month, in debate on the Gungahlin Drive Extension Authorisation Bill, I asked when we would again be seeing this type of legislation. Unfortunately, I got an answer all too quickly. If the Assembly does not stand up against the abuse of our legislative process this type of legislation will become all too common and our rights will slowly disappear. This bill is yet another example of the Labor government, supported by the Liberal opposition, using the Assembly for blatant political purposes-to interfere in our system of governance and our system of planning. The ACT Democrats will not be part of it.

MS TUCKER (4.50): The Greens do not support this legislation. It is ironic that today is the proud day when the Human Rights Bill comes into effect, promising a better standard of government. It is relevant to debate the Gungahlin Drive Extension Authorisation Amendment Bill, which has the honour of being the first bill to breach the law on the very first active day of the life of the Human Rights Act. I quote from the Human Rights


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