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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3314 ..

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (10.49): Mr Speaker, I move the amendment circulated in my name which reads as follows:

That the following new section be inserted in the Bill: Page 6, clause 6, line 26:

"19O. Part ceases to operate on 31 December 2000

This Part ceases to operate on 31 December 2000.".

As I foreshadowed earlier, this amendment imposes, as Mr Rugendyke said, a sunset clause of two years from the end of this month. I have indicated my serious concerns about the extent to which we accept legislation that does trammel certain rights and liberties. As I indicated before, on balance I and the Labor Party agreed to support this legislation. I am not suggesting that in coming to that decision we were necessarily overawed, with great respect to the Attorney, by his particular interpretation of the provisions.

This is an interesting case in which the Assembly was presented with two sets of advice on a very difficult provision. One was the opinion of the Attorney-General, our first law officer, and the other was the opinion of the legal adviser to the scrutiny of Bills committee which, as the Attorney suggests, is the opinion of the scrutiny of Bills committee to the extent that it was presented as part of a report of that committee. I was suggesting in my comments that I found the scrutiny of Bills committee very persuasive. I think I found it more persuasive than the - - -

Mr Osborne: Than the chair found it.

MR STANHOPE: Yes, that is right. I have to say, Mr Osborne, that I found your report very persuasive. I thought it was very well argued and it raised issues which caused me genuine concern. The Labor Party has also gone through a process of balancing the various rights inherent in this very difficult issue. In the end we came down with the view that we would support this legislation.

We have been presented, in effect, with two-handed advice, or conflicting advice; that on the one hand it offends the ICCPR and on the other hand it does not. It is a complex issue. In response to the fact that we have the Attorney presenting one position to us and the scrutiny of Bills committee presenting a different view to us, I propose this amendment which will impose the discipline on this place and on the Territory to review the operation of this very significant change to the law in the ACT. I heard the argument that this is something that is currently undertaken in other jurisdictions, but they are not us. We are the ACT and we are responsible for the people of the ACT, and this is a significant advance in terms of restriction of the rights and liberties of a class of people.

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