Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 896 ..
pandemic, the government legislated to remove one of the most fundamental legal and human rights principles—the right of an accused to a trial by jury. The government replaced the traditional jury with a judge-only trial, citing COVID-19 safety restrictions.
Despite concerns raised by the Canberra Liberals and the legal profession at the time as to the legal and human rights implications of such legislative changes, Labor and the Greens voted down the Canberra Liberals’ amendments and pushed ahead—again, because they supposedly know better. The ACT Law Society and the Law Council of Australia condemned the ACT government’s changes and warned that it may likely be in breach of its constitutional power and at risk of legislative overreach, which can jeopardise the integrity and independence of the court.
This budget also failed to provide funding for a permanent and full-time coroner. In recent years the Coroner’s Court has seen an increase in workloads while it has failed to meet its target for the timely completion of cases. The Canberra Liberals have previously called for the establishment of a permanent, full-time coroner for the ACT. This is a sensible approach to help alleviate the increasing pressures on the Coroner’s Court and tackle growing waiting times. Families deserve timely answers after the loss of a loved one. A properly resourced Coroner’s Court will help to achieve this.
The government’s ignorance and disrespect for the advice of the legal profession highlights this government’s attitude towards the rule of law and the broader welfare of the Canberra community. Just like our economy, Canberrans deserve nation-leading outcomes in this space. We are a small and capable jurisdiction and Canberra deserves a government that gets things right.
At the 2020 election Canberrans gave Labor and the Greens a unique opportunity. The voters entrusted in them not only the leadership of our community for the next four years but also a remarkable opportunity to shape what Canberra will be like to live in, to work in, to raise a family in and to retire in for future decades. COVID-19 and its economic impact have well and truly changed the way we work, travel, communicate and interact. Our territory has come to an important juncture.
Our leaders—the Chief Minister and his re-elected Labor-Greens government—have an important choice to make: do we want to continue down this current path, where Canberra families are gouged left, right and centre by increasing rates, taxes and levies; where Canberra households must choose between paying the next household bill and sending their child on the next school camp; where public housing tenants remain on waiting lists for years as housing units are left empty and neglected; where Canberra businesses must battle every day to keep their doors open and their staff employed; where our leaders promise to back small business but fail to deliver; where the most vulnerable members of our community, from our First Nation people to those from the culturally and linguistically diverse community, are forgotten; or does this Labor-Greens government genuinely want to rectify 20 years of broken promises and failing services?
I want to work with the Chief Minister to ensure that Canberrans get a better deal, to make it easier to start and run a small business in Canberra, to lower the cost of living