Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 15 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 December 2005) . . Page.. 4833 ..
trial, the fact that we, as a nation, respect and reinforce that a criminal has a right to a fair trial does not in any way denigrate, derogate from, reduce, limit or demean the rights which are invested in the victims of that alleged criminal’s behaviour or activity.
To suggest, as the argument goes, which is the subtext to the question which the shadow attorney asks, that, because our Human Rights Act acknowledges the right to a fair trial and all that means and because we acknowledge the rights of some, we are in some way limiting or showing less respect for the rights of a person who may have been the victim of that particular criminal activity—that is the subtext, and it is a subtext that I reject absolutely—does not mean, in relation to others who may have some association or who may have suffered at the hands of those in whom we recognise rights, that we in any way diminish those rights. That is the whole point of human rights.
They are inalienable; they invest in each of us; they invest in the best of us; and they invest in the worst of us. That is the importance of recognising our Human Rights Act. We will never have any significant occasion in our lives to be forced to argue that a human right that we have has in some way been derogated from or infringed. Human rights are not something that those of us who are men, those of us who are white men and those of us who are middle aged, professionals, with a decent income, heterosexual, married and do not have a significant physical, mental or other disability worry about.
Human rights are for people on the edge; human rights are for people who struggle; human rights are for those who have a history of discrimination; human rights are for those people at the edges of our societies in the main, such as criminals and those that suffer at the hands of criminals. We have a whole range of human rights to ensure that we respect and recognise that. It is summed up nicely by: “There but for the grace of God go many of us.” There is a lottery in life in terms of whether or not we are born with significant facts around our birth, our reality or our existence which have traditionally led to discrimination.
MR SPEAKER: The minister’s time has expired.
MR STEFANIAK: I have a supplementary question. Attorney, why wasn’t the Victims of Crime Assistance League consulted about the conference or given a leading role, instead of just being given quite belatedly, several days beforehand, an invitation by the Victims of Crime Coordinator to attend the conference, a conference incidentally that was held on the same day as the AGM of VOCAL?
MR STANHOPE: I do not accept those sorts of allegations. I do not know the basis on which the shadow attorney justifies his allegations. They are the sorts of allegations that it is very easy to come in here and throw around without any thought or need to substantiate them in any significant or serious way. To the extent that VOCAL have some concerns, I am more than happy to have those investigated. But I do take with a grain of salt this sort of bland, spray-it-around accusation against, once again, public servants, the suggestion that you cannot trust the public servants, that they are ignorant of other people’s rights and sensitivities, and that they do not take into account other people’s needs, programs, availability or interest in a particular thing.
It is just so easy to make the throwaway remark or come in here and make this serious allegation around an apparent total lack of care, interest or sensitivity on the part of