Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (28 May) . . Page.. 692 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
I have a page missing from my presentation speech, Mr Speaker.
MR SPEAKER: We are all in the same position, it seems.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I seek leave to withdraw this Bill and to present it again later today. I need to have the full speech. It is a fairly important matter.
Bill, by leave, withdrawn.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (11.04): Mr Speaker, I present the Community Referendum Bill 1998, together with its explanatory memorandum.
Title read by Clerk.
MR HUMPHRIES: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
I have risen to bring before this Assembly the Community Referendum Bill, to keep faith with the people of Canberra and to show this Government's commitment to a wide and inclusive dialogue with them. This is the fourth time that this Bill in some form has been brought before the Assembly. In reintroducing the Bill, the Government is challenging the new members of this Assembly to look objectively and dispassionately at the principles underpinning this Bill.
Mr Speaker, it will come as no surprise that I believe that there is merit in this Bill receiving closer scrutiny than it received in previous Assemblies. To that end, I intend to reintroduce this Bill today and ask members to give more serious consideration to granting Canberrans a new voice through the introduction of community-initiated referenda in the ACT. In the previous Assembly, the Bill was the victim of prejudice and fear - prejudice that the people, the citizens of the ACT, cannot be trusted to make their own laws, and fear that MLAs might lose their monopoly over law-making. There is a strange irony in empowering electors to choose this august body but refusing them the right to enact legislation.
This pioneering legislation reflects the Government's commitment to the principle that sovereignty rests with the people, not with governments. If enacted, it would empower ordinary electors to have a genuine say in the laws that govern them by giving average people - working people, I might even say - the right to initiate and enact their own laws. While this is pioneering legislation, we have taken 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.