Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 25 August 2010) . . Page.. 3931 ..
I find it absolutely extraordinary, and I think it is indicative of the wrong priorities of this Assembly. Indeed, I am afraid that this is an example of why so many people in Canberra do not necessarily respect this place as much as they should. This place should be respected by all Canberrans. This is indeed Canberrans’ chamber. Yet I am afraid that, when we move legislation like this, we get so sidetracked and we get so inward focused that we forget about the real deal.
I wonder what the cost of this bill is to the taxpayer, whether it be the cost of drafting the bill, the cost of the chamber time, the cost of TAMS’s time or the cost of the Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner’s time. That is before you even implement this legislation. It would be many thousands of dollars.
The ACT opposition will be voting against this legislation, because it is legislation for legislation’s sake. It could have been done easily by the department or by retailers on their own.
MS LE COUTEUR (Molonglo) (5.24): I want to make some brief comments, given that Mr Coe has raised the human rights issues. Firstly, I would like to say that, of course, the Greens are very supportive of human rights and we do think it is appropriate to consider human rights in all legislation, regardless of Mr Coe’s view. I would also just like to point out that from a human rights point of view, the bill was designed to improve the existing law regarding littering and shopping trolleys, particularly relating to individuals at socioeconomic disadvantage. That was in the explanatory statement and in my introduction speech back in February.
The comments provided to me, first, by Mr Stanhope and, then, some further comments by the human rights commissioner, Dr Watchirs, confirmed that the trolley scheme I introduced is in fact an improvement on the existing scheme under the Litter Act. The Litter Act takes no account of the fact that homeless people or other people at a socioeconomic disadvantage could be treated unreasonably.
This is the case under the previous scheme and it is presumably the scheme which the Liberal Party are still supporting, albeit that they clearly do not agree with the new bill. They clearly wish the old Litter Act to remain. As confirmed by the human rights commissioner, it was definitely worse for human rights. If they were concerned about the human rights issues, I believe that they would be supporting my bill as amended by Mr Stanhope.
I will now read part of the letter to me from the human rights commissioner. It says:
I would agree that a reduction in the penalty for abandonment of a shopping trolley would make the existing offence more proportionate under s. 28 of the Human Rights Act 2004, based on the assumption that such an offence may disproportionately affect people at socio-economic disadvantage. It is clear that your intention was to ensure that individuals with such an attribute were not treated unreasonably.
She went on to say: