Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 20 September 2018) . . Page.. 3948 ..
at Groovin the Moo, there is a real possibility of reducing harm to our young people. Unfortunately, we are in the situation that the commonwealth government has decided, as far as I can tell for ideological reasons, that it does not support pill testing. Thus the young people of Canberra and the surrounding parts of New South Wales in particular who will come to this festival have been denied the opportunity of going to a festival where pill testing is offered.
For all of these reasons, and the reasons that Ms Cheyne has eloquently talked about, I think that the ACT and the Northern Territory should have the same rights as other Australians. We are equal to our fellow Australians.
MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for the Arts and Cultural Events, Minister for Building Quality Improvement, Minister for Business and Regulatory Services and Minister for Seniors and Veterans) (3.56): There can be no doubt that Canberrans are engaged and active in building their city. Our constituents demand that as members of this Assembly we are responsive to their needs and that we stand up for their progressive values.
As members of government, we as ministers have a responsibility to deliver policies and to administer the territory in a way that lives up to the values of the people of Canberra. We are proud to represent Canberrans, and it is through their collective work that we have built the healthiest, the best educated and the longest living community in Australia. Respecting the contribution of Canberrans to this place means that we need to stand up for their right to keep making decisions about Canberra.
This place was established as a territory to provide a place for the seat of the commonwealth parliament. It was not established to provide a forum for backbenchers in faraway electorates to score political points by stripping the rights from Canberrans or by making deeply divisive value judgements.
This past August there was an opportunity for everyone in this chamber and in our federal parliament to join the call for respecting Canberra’s voters. The bill to repeal the Andrews amendment would have restored our rights to make a decision about voluntary assisted dying. Our member for Fenner, Dr Andrew Leigh, has spoken strongly in parliament for the rights of Canberrans to decide.
Of course not everyone in this chamber or who represents Canberra voters agrees that Canberrans should have the same rights to express their values as other Australians. As has been noted, the Canberra Liberal senator, Zed Seselja, did not just vote against equal rights for Canberrans; he went further. He took to the op-ed columns to argue his personal viewpoint about euthanasia. He argued that because this matter was a matter of conscience he should be entitled therefore to vote according to his values. He did this, at the same time denying his own constituents the right to vote according to their values.
But there are, as has also been noted, more examples than just voluntary assisted dying. Last year the Canberra Liberals sought to take advantage of federal powers in the territory by going directly to two federal Liberal ministers in the hope of shutting