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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (10 March) . . Page.. 479 ..






Debate resumed from 26 August 1998, on motion by Ms Tucker:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SPEAKER: Is it the wish of the Assembly to debate this order of the day concurrently with the Coroners (Amendment) Bill 1998, the Oaths and Affirmations (Amendment) Bill 1998 and the Supreme Court (Amendment) Bill (No. 2) 1998? There being no objection, that course will be followed. I remind members that in debating order of the day No. 2 they may also address their remarks to orders of the day Nos 3, 4 and 5.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (11.17): Mr Speaker, this is in a sense a restaging of a number of pieces of legislation which the Assembly has considered on a number of occasions before, that is, on a number of occasions the Assembly has considered Bills that remove references to the Queen and replace them with oaths or affirmations taken by various office-holders or persons taking various steps, in effect, to swear allegiance other than to the Queen. Mr Speaker, the Government has opposed those Bills on previous occasions and it opposes these Bills again for the same reason.

Mr Speaker, I do not propose to speak for very long on the arguments that have been put before about this matter. Members have heard those arguments. I do not think they need me to repeat them at any great length. But I will put one other argument which is more pertinent at the moment, given the referendum which is due to happen later this year, that is, the argument that to repeal references to the Queen in legislation could be seen, I think quite rightly, by many citizens in this community as a pre-empting of the referendum which is to be held in November of this year. That referendum will ask citizens of this country to decide whether Australia should remain as a constitutional monarchy or should become a republic. Clearly, if Australia as a whole decides to become a republic, then references to the Queen and other references to the Crown throughout not just legislation but a whole host of other institutions and manifestations of that institution within our community will have to be removed.

I make no bones about the fact that, although I do not support the move to a republic, if Australia votes to become a republic, clearly we will have to take certain steps to accomplish that particular process. I am a democrat above all else and I believe that, if Australia makes that decision, we should all abide by the decision and move down the path of implementing the decision that the Australian people make. Mr Speaker, it also needs to be put on the record that at this point in time Australia has not made that decision and that many people would say that the ACT Legislative Assembly, by going

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