Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3058 ..
legislation was done in part, in a sense. We had a movement where we introduced regulatory impact statements and then that became within the purview of the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety acting in its role as the committee for the scrutiny of bills and subordinate legislation.
What happened then, of course, was that we moved on to where all bills, private members’ bills or government bills, are now considered by that committee on scrutiny. And now we believe that we would like to move to the point where when we are talking about the passage of legislation it matters not. I apologise; I cannot remember who it was—I think it might have been Mr Rattenbury—who said yesterday that the executive does not have a mortgage on bright ideas. It may have been your good self but I am sorry, I have forgotten. We need to consider that when bills are put before the Assembly this is a parliamentary process, actually, and so we need to have the same process of scrutiny to ensure that personal liberties are not infringed upon, regardless of who is the bill’s originator.
That applies to bills, but it does not necessarily apply to amendments of bills. What we are seeing is that consideration by the committee of people’s freedoms, personal liberties et cetera is being applied to government bills but not to private members’ bills.
The essence of this particular initiative is that for a while we would have private members, non-executive members, submit their amendments in the same process as would government members, to have them examined by the committee’s legal adviser. It is quite possible—it has occurred in this place before now—for people’s rights and liberties to be infringed upon inadvertently, and our only protection against that really is to have these things examined by the legal adviser and thus the committee on scrutiny of bills and subordinate legislation.
A point brought up in the road safety drug testing issue—I think it was by Mr Hanson—recognised that some people will have their rights and privileges et cetera impinged upon through arrest et cetera but that that is okay because it is in the interests of the common good. I do not have a problem with that; but I think the Assembly would be well advised to know that impact and know how it impacts, through the benefit of having the legal adviser look at these sorts of things when we consider them, because we have quite often passed legislation here and an individual has been treated detrimentally out of the human rights stuff but we know quite clearly that it is in the common good and the Human Rights Act actually allows for that. So we need to make sure that our conversation here covers that.
The disappointing bit for me in recent times was that the committee was ready to put this offer to private members down on Tuesday, but it did not appear on Tuesday, did it? It appears today. For the first time for a very long time we saw legislation yesterday which has the potential to impact on people’s personal liberties and we have passed the legislation without the benefit of such examination, which would have been possible had members availed themselves of the offer to have it examined.
However, most members in this place were not necessarily aware that the offer to have amendments considered by that committee was there, was on offer. Indeed, quite a number of amendments were put in the legislation yesterday which may have had an