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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 1327 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Members of the Legislative Assembly originally had to swear this allegiance, but now have an option to use a non-regal oath or affirmation after amendments to the Oath and Affirmations Act 1995. The laws requiring office-holders to swear allegiance to the Queen are really an antiquated relic of our judicial system and need to be changed. The oath does not even mention allegiance to Australia or Australians, and it is ludicrous that our office-holders should be required to swear an oath to a foreigner.

There would be few Australians alive today, irrespective of their views on whether Australia should be a republic or not, that would regard such an oath as a true expression of their national loyalty. This oath is a totally inadequate expression for what the office-holder is taking an oath for, which is to commit themselves to serve faithfully and competently in their office according to law and without fear or favour. It has nothing to do with the Queen. This amendment will not reduce the importance of the oath of office, nor reduce the required commitment of these office-holders to their job.

As Australia makes its inevitable move towards a republic, as demonstrated by the outcomes of the Constitutional Convention held at the start of this year, references to the Queen will need to be removed from many pieces of legislation at State and Federal levels. As the Greens have said at various times in this Assembly, we do not believe that we should have to put off important reforms in the ACT just because we are ahead of the thinking in other States.

Last year, at my initiative, the Assembly agreed to amend the oath of office made by magistrates under the Magistrates Court Act, so that it no longer included a requirement for magistrates to swear allegiance to the Queen. These Bills now apply this amendment to the other office-holders who still have to swear allegiance to the Queen or, in the case of MLAs, have this as an option. I believe that the Assembly should take this opportunity of removing references to the Queen in our legislation by fixing up the oath of office to make it more relevant to office-holders' responsibilities to the people of the ACT and not their outdated responsibilities to a royal family 15,000 kilometres away.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak) adjourned.


MS TUCKER (11.09): I present the Coroners (Amendment) Bill 1998.

Title read by Clerk.

MS TUCKER: I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, I have already spoken to this in my previous speech.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak) adjourned.

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