Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 762 ..
Mr Berry: I am sure you can understand them, though; they are about three lines each.
MR HUMPHRIES: Maybe so, but they significantly and dramatically alter the effect of the legislation. Mr Speaker, I will come back to the amendments when we deal with the detail stage of the legislation, but I want to deal with the Bill as if it contained those amendments.
Mr Speaker, I ask members of this place to note - and I am concerned, to be quite frank - that Ms Tucker is not here at the moment to listen to these remarks. Ms Tucker was reported in the Canberra Times as being prepared to support this legislation.
Ms Tucker: I am here to listen.
MR HUMPHRIES: I hope you are, Ms Tucker. It is very good to hear that. Interjecting from outside your seat is out of order, of course, and even out of the chamber; nonetheless, Mr Speaker, I am grateful for that fact because I do want her to hear what I have to say.
Mr Speaker, if the Assembly passes this legislation today, it will be doing something which, to the best of my research, it has never done before. It will be taking a step which it has never undertaken before. Mr Speaker, the amendment before the Assembly offends a principle which the Assembly has stood by, to the best of my recollection, consistently since the very beginning of self-government, that is, that legislation should not create or extend criminal liabilities or penalties to apply retrospectively to citizens of the ACT. In respect of imposing or extending a criminal liability, this is, to the best of my recollection, the first time the Legislative Assembly has done so, the very first time it has done so. I am aware and members will be aware, no doubt, of occasions in the past where the Assembly has curtailed some civil right, some right in a civil sense, that a person enjoys - and I will come back to an example of that in a moment - but this is the first time, to the best of my research, that the Assembly has actually retrospectively imposed a liability on somebody who at this stage does not experience that liability, the first time that a criminal immunity has been removed from a person. Mr Berry shakes his head and indicates - - -
Mr Moore: If it passes.
MR HUMPHRIES: If this legislation were to pass. Mr Berry shakes his head and says that that is not right. I would be grateful if he would tell me what is the example or the precedent for this, because to my recollection there is no precedent for this. There are certainly precedents for curtailing the civil rights of people in the way of their obligations in a civil sense. One example that comes to mind is the decision, I think in 1994, to provide that people who had lottery tickets that had certain combinations and numbers on them could not claim prizes for those tickets on the basis of a particular reading of the tickets' conditions of entry. Members will even recall that on that occasion I moved in this place that the persons who had already commenced an action in the Supreme Court to sue for recovery of winnings under tickets bought under that system should not have their rights removed by the legislation. Even so, that legislation dealt only with a civil obligation or a civil right that a person had to be able to sue someone civilly for