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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 November 2010) . . Page.. 5444 ..


MS HUNTER: Supplementary, Mr Speaker?

MR SPEAKER: Ms Hunter, a supplementary.

MS HUNTER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Chief Minister, what has been the feedback from your federal colleagues about whether they will support these two bills or not?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Hunter for the question in relation to that. At this stage I have to say, Ms Hunter—and it is similarly a matter that has caused me to reflect—that my colleagues and, I believe, members of the Liberal Party, within the federal parliament have been granted a conscience vote on this issue. I have to say, and I have publicly suggested, that I believe it inappropriate on an issue such as this. The fundamental issue, the issue of principle, is our democratic rights and I have put a view strongly and in writing to every single member of the House of Representatives and the Senate that I did not accept it appropriate that this be treated as a conscience issue. It is not a conscience issue.

What is the conscience issue in relation to the rights of the people of the ACT to be treated equally and fairly? This is not a conscience issue and I have expressed the view, in writing, to each of my colleagues and indeed the Liberal members of the federal parliament that the conscience that I would wish them to bring to bear to this issue is to apply a conscience vote to the democratic rights of the people of the ACT and of this parliament to govern in the best interests of the people they represent and to be judged by the people they represent.

To suggest that a bill which at its heart is only about restoring a democratic right is a conscience issue misses the point—and misses the point completely. It actually diverts attention to the fact that the substance of the bill took away the democratic rights relating to euthanasia. If members of the federal parliament want to take a leadership role on issues like euthanasia, they can go the next step and take the lead on issues nationally such as abortion and other conscience issues.

MR HARGREAVES: A supplementary, Mr Speaker?

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hargreaves.

MR HARGREAVES: Chief Minister, what steps have you taken to have the ACT’s interest highlighted ahead of the debate in the federal parliament this week on a private member’s bill that seeks to restore the right of the ACT to legislate in the area of euthanasia—

Mr Hanson: He has already answered that. Did you read the wrong question, John?

MR HARGREAVES: Something that I know Mr Hanson is very interested in.

MR STANHOPE: I have taken a range of steps, including meeting, at his request, Senator Humphries. I must say that I am pleased to see Senator Humphries working quite assiduously with his colleagues federally to deal with this issue and the rights of


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