Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 1782 ..
MR MOORE (11.41): On quite a number of occasions I have been in a position where I have made either an oath or an affirmation, as set out currently in the self-government Act. Certainly, when I was a member of the Citizen Military Forces and was commissioned as an officer I did so. When I joined the Citizen Military Forces, I believe that I did so, and I imagine that the same would go for a number of people in different times, and similarly as a member of this Legislative Assembly on three occasions. On those occasions I swore that I would be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors according to law. For me, one of the most important parts in the whole process was "according to law". It is that law that we are seeking to change or to modify at this stage, and I think it is appropriate that it be modified.
When I first saw the Oaths and Affirmations (Amendment) Bill, I thought yes, it is timely; we have reached the point where we should stand up for ourselves, and our first and most important responsibility is to the people of the Australian Capital Territory. I have heard the arguments Mr Humphries has put about our allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth as Queen of Australia. Whilst I find the arguments tenuous to a certain extent, I accept that within Australia and the Australian Capital Territory there are people who feel particularly strongly about that. So, when Mr Osborne indicates, and I am sure that he will speak about it, the possibility of allowing individuals to choose how they wish to go while the debate on a republic continues, I think that makes a reasonable amount of sense. People like me who will choose to go down the path Ms Follett has proposed will be able to do so; similarly, people who choose to retain their oath to what is still currently the Australian head of state will be able to do that.
Although I am pre-empting Ms Follett to a certain extent, I think that is a sensible approach, and what I would see as the interim step. It is a step-by-step approach. I think it will not be all that long - I would not be surprised if as a member of this Assembly I see this myself - before we take the broad step of having the oath without reference to a foreign head of state who is also the Australian head of state. I think it is appropriate for the Leader of the Opposition to bring on this debate and to allow the choice, in the same way as we allow the choice between an oath and an affirmation, which recognises people's beliefs. The opportunity to recognise people's beliefs and feelings is appropriate. I look forward to the detail stage of this Bill, when we take what I hope will be a sensible step.
MR KAINE (11.45): I want to emphasise some of the points Mr Humphries made. I suppose that in some sense I am a bit of a traditionalist, but I also happen to subscribe to the concept of the rule of law. Mr Moore referred to the fact that the current oath we make refers to the law. I do not believe that we should be changing the law by this sort of backdoor method. It offends me personally that we seek to deal with the matter in this way.
Mr Humphries has made the point that there is a debate going on at the moment about whether or not this country is going to become a republic. That may be resolved in the affirmative or the negative. When the time comes, if the people choose that we become a republic, it will be necessary to find new forms for these things that we are required to do. But at the moment we do not have to, and it seems to me to be a repudiation of