Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 1785 ..
MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition) (11.55), in reply: I welcome the support I have had from most members for the notion that, as members of this Assembly, we should express our allegiance, our loyalty, to the people whom we have been elected to serve, that is, the people of the Australian Capital Territory. Mr Kaine alone of the speakers had some difficulty with that notion. Mr Kaine asked which ones we are to serve. I would answer Mr Kaine by saying that we are expected to serve them all, and to serve them regardless of their background, their race, their creed, their multiculturalism and so on. I think that is very clear to most of the people who have spoken.
I would also like to comment that Mr Kaine's remarks really make a mockery of the amendment that will be put forward by his colleague Mr Humphries, because the wording in the amendment foreshadowed by Mr Humphries is identical to the wording I have proposed. Mr Humphries in Part II of his proposed Schedule 1A has the words, "I swear" or "I solemnly affirm that I will faithfully serve the people of the Australian Capital Territory as a member of the Legislative Assembly and discharge my responsibilities according to law". That wording is identical to the wording I have proposed. Mr Kaine perhaps should have sought to discuss his qualms with Mr Humphries before he got to his feet in the Assembly.
I want to answer a couple of other points that were made in the course of the debate. Mr Humphries was concerned, at the outset of his remarks, that there was an attempt here to diminish the Queen, to be disrespectful towards the Queen. I very much doubt whether anybody reading the speech I made at the introduction of this Bill could find any disrespect, anything other than the utmost respect, in those comments. That is certainly not my intention and never has been. Indeed, regardless of whether Australia becomes a republic, there is no doubt whatsoever that the Queen is held in high esteem and in some affection by many Australians, many Canberrans. Every time she visits this country she is treated very much as an honoured guest. That would not change under any republican arrangement. She is always the head of state of Great Britain; she will still be the head of state. She is still a person who represents some Australian tradition, some Australian loyalty, but not the whole picture, and that is my very point - that Australia, including Canberra, is a multicultural community. Mr Humphries made the comment that we are all Australians. The fact of the matter is that the Queen is not, and that is very much a part of the debate on the republic. People feel, and I feel, that we should have an Australian head of state.
Mr Humphries also referred to the question of what occurs in other parliaments at the time they swear in new members. I make the point, first of all, that this parliament is not like other parliaments. From the very outset, we have not had a representative of the Queen as part of our constitution in the ACT. To answer one of Mr Kaine's comments, the ACT is the closest thing Australia has to a republic. We do not have a governor; we do not have an administrator. As I said in my opening remarks, the Crown does not play a noticeable part in the business of either the Assembly or the Government. That makes us very different from other parliaments. In swearing in members of other State parliaments, it is probably highly likely that the Queen's representative is present at those occasions. For that reason, you would expect their processes, their swearing in, to reflect that fact.