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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 8 Hansard (27 June) . . Page.. 2226 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

the Bill provides for holding a referendum on that proposed law on the third Saturday in February in the next year, provided the Assembly does not first enact the law. If a majority of electors support the proposed law, it is presented to the Assembly to be passed into law. As the ACT (Self-Government) Act now stands, only the Assembly can make laws. The Assembly cannot be bound to enact a proposed law passed at a referendum. To enable the results of community-initiated referenda to be binding on the Assembly, if this Bill is passed the Government will approach the Commonwealth Government seeking amendments to the self-government Act.

I am also announcing today the Government's intention to bring forward further amendments to enable citizens to initiate their own amendments to the Territory Plan, something which they cannot do at the present time and a development which I hope members opposite who express interest in making the Territory Plan accessible to citizens of this Territory might take more seriously than they did on the previous occasion.

Mr Moore: What about the 40,000 signatures you have, Gary? Do you not feel a level of hypocrisy - - -

MR HUMPHRIES: We can have a referendum. If those opposite really think that the 40,000 who signed that petition represent the view of the community, they should support this Bill and we will be able to put the issue to the test.

Mr Moore: Do not be a hypocrite, Gary.

MR HUMPHRIES: No, I am not the hypocrite here.

Mr Moore: Of course you are a hypocrite. Do not be a hypocrite.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Humphries, please continue.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I am not the hypocrite in this debate. I will submit myself to the judgment of the people. Will Mr Moore? That is the question. It is unreasonable to expect that those seeking to vary the Territory Plan, itself a statutory instrument, should not be able to do so when we are giving the people of Canberra the ability to make laws. So, in cases where people want to argue the case for a change of use for the Territory's land or waterways, they will have the ability to do that for themselves rather than having to rely on the Minister of the day to do it for them.

Another step the Government has taken is to introduce an entrenching law to ensure that the Assembly does not remove the right of electors to initiate laws by repealing or fundamentally altering this Bill without the approval of either a two-thirds majority of the Assembly or a majority of electors at a referendum. The entrenching law also seeks to restrict the Assembly for a period of 12 months from amending a law passed as the result of the process set out in this Bill, unless either a two-thirds majority of the Assembly or a majority of electors at a referendum approves of a change. This Bill takes a very careful approach to ensure that proposals will be well thought out and will result in good law. It will complement the role of the Assembly.

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