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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (23 March) . . Page.. 711 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

I think the issue is very simple. This Assembly should not deprive the people of Canberra of certain information that is given to public and open inquiries. I think the issue is as simple as that. This is not a debate about the merits or otherwise of immunisation. This is not a debate about whether or not there are people who might legitimately refuse to have children immunised. That is a debate for another day and a debate that might come out of the submissions. This is a debate about the right of the people of the ACT to receive and to read submissions made openly in public to this Assembly. This is, in effect, a debate about whether or not we should censor certain material that is provided openly and publicly to us. It would be a dark day indeed when this Assembly decides to censor material provided to it in the public interest.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Wood, do you seek leave to speak again?


Leave granted.

MR WOOD: I do not like standing up a second time. I think you only need one graft of the cherry. I want to contest something that Mr Osborne said and that was that some of these submissions were made by lunatics, by people on the fringe. I know some of those people and they are fine, sound, intelligent and reasonable citizens who observe and who read and who make points that they believe in. I might disagree with those points.

Ms Carnell: There are some that are a bit - - -

MR WOOD: Well, I respect the views they present. Let me give a comparable example, perhaps. I was chair of a select committee here on fluoride - it was one of the most difficult jobs I have done in my life - and we had a very large amount of information coming in that we did not accept in the end as being valid, but we heard it, we considered it, we weighed it up and it was pointed out to the community. It was open for people in the community to accept that information as well as our report on the issue. I am not so up with the standing orders as to know how this information is going to be released. It may be valid, if we publicly release it in printed form, that we put in some other information in strong support of immunisation if that balance is needed; but, in the end, I think we rely on the good sense of people in Canberra and their ability to judge what is sense and what is not.

MR RUGENDYKE (4.41): I rise to support the motion. I would be more than happy, as a member of the health committee, to receive these submissions and for the committee to assess whether or not it is appropriate to authorise their publication. I would hope though that these people have had their submissions published in the Lancet or some other journal of medical standing in the hope that their submissions are not being presented to this Assembly simply as a way of having their views somehow legitimised.

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