Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 15 February 2018) . . Page.. 299 ..
Self-government allows the voters of Canberra to decide that this will continue to be the most inclusive, fair city in Australia. It is never acceptable for commonwealth politicians to try to undermine our core values in Canberra in order to appease people who believe that discrimination is okay in their electorates. Harmonious and inclusive communities are the product of effective balance and compromise in the consideration and application of laws, not the pitting of the rights of one group against another.
The ACT’s Human Rights Act provides a framework for analysing questions about rights, and resolving them in a way that is consultative and that takes account of competing rights and conflicting viewpoints. My predecessor as Attorney-General, Simon Corbell MLA, spoke at a conference organised by the Human Rights Commission in 2014 that marked the 10th anniversary of the Human Rights Act. He spoke of the importance of our human rights legislation, saying:
Human rights protection is not a finalised end result at which point we can say we have fully protected human rights. It is a dynamic process which will succeed not just because we protect human rights in the statute book.
It is about continually examining and reviewing the practical effect of government policies and processes.
Mr Corbell was speaking from the perspective of a government that made human rights a priority. The ACT is proud to be Australia’s first jurisdiction to enshrine human rights in legislation. The ACT Human Rights Act is model legislation that the federal government should adopt, not override. A national human rights framework would provide a valuable and effective underpinning for a robust community debate on the balancing of rights, particularly in circumstances where legislators face challenging decisions of conscience.
Our Legislative Assembly enacted a Human Rights Act with the full support of the community. Our anti-discrimination framework represents a clear statement of this community’s support for equality and inclusion. The government has continued and will continue to proudly represent Canberra’s progressive values in this national conversation about religious freedom.
Eighty-two per cent of Canberrans participated in the postal survey. Seventy-four per cent of the people who responded endorsed marriage equality. Anyone who joined the Braddon Street party that day in November was left in no doubt that Canberra voted to show its support for equality and to promote inclusion. This government will continue to stand up for equality, and to stand up for self-government. As members we owe it to our constituents to be firm and unwavering in support of our values. Today’s matter of public importance is a call for each and every one of us to reaffirm our commitment to those values, and to keep working as members to make sure that Canberra’s progressive values are heard and maintained.
MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (4.04): I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on this matter of public importance for a few moments. Freedom from discrimination is an essential element of a free and just society, as was made clear in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—and I quote: