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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 8 Hansard (27 June) . . Page.. 2231 ..

Mr Berry: It was never our policy, mate.


Mr Berry: Not here, not in the ACT.

MR HUMPHRIES: It was the policy of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Speaker. I believe that that policy would empower average citizens by giving them direct access to the legislative process that they currently do not have. Under the present system, Mr Speaker, minority groups can wield enormous power if they can sway the opinions of a bare majority of Assembly members, just nine people. With a community-initiated referendum, minority groups must gain the approval of a majority of voters - something like 90,000 to 100,000 electors of the Territory at the present time - if they are to get their way. This Bill takes power away from minority pressure groups and gives it to all citizens. Ms Follett also pointed to overseas experience with community-initiated referenda and stated that "an examination of the US record shows that groups such as racist and anti-immigration forces and religious right anti-gay forces" - - -

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, I think you are far too relaxed about ruling under standing order 52. It clearly prohibits members from reflecting on a vote of the Assembly. Mr Humphries's speech in relation to this matter is a reflection on the votes of members in this place in the past and the arguments that they put in relation to those votes. It is clearly a reflection on a previous vote. He continues to ignore the points of orders which have been raised. I urge you to rule that he desist from this practice. If he does not desist, he should be ordered to sit down.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, may I address you on the point of order. It is patently a nonsense to suggest that a member may not reflect on the opinions of other members. That is what Mr Berry is in effect saying. He is saying that - - -

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker - - -

MR HUMPHRIES: May I finish my point of order.

Mr Berry: No, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Just a moment.

MR HUMPHRIES: May I finish my point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I was in the middle of that point. I did not interrupt Mr Berry. My point of order is that what Mr Berry is in effect saying to the house is that a reflection on an opinion expressed by a member in an earlier debate is a reflection on a vote of that member or of the house. If that is the view that he takes, it eliminates the capacity of members to comment on the earlier stated opinions of members in this place wherever those led to a vote of the Assembly. Of course, almost all proceedings in this place lead to a vote of some kind or another. That would be a ridiculous restriction on the way in which the Assembly operates. It cannot be allowed. You cannot allow it to be accepted.

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