Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 767 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
No, I did not. Mr Stanhope did write back to me on 31 May but gave no argument whatsoever as to why retrospectivity should be used to cancel somebody's rights in these circumstances. (Extension of time granted) Mr Stanhope gave me no argument whatsoever, no reason.
That was a surprising omission, I would have thought, for the former president of the ACT Council of Civil Liberties. Here is something which governments and parliaments in some other countries are actually constitutionally barred from doing because it is so discriminatory to civil rights - it is so discriminatory to civil rights that in some countries parliaments cannot even do so - and the former president of the ACT Council of Civil Liberties had no opinion on this subject when I wrote to him on that issue, offered no justification and no reason. Mr Speaker, in the circumstances, it is hardly surprising that the Government did not move forward with legislation of this kind. It clearly was of the view then, after hearing what members had or did not have to say, to be more precise, and remains of the view today that there is not a justifiable case for cancelling the rights of people that may have accrued already.
In May of last year there was some argument that cancelling the rights may have been accomplished without retrospective adverse effect. That is an argument we may or may not have had if the legislation had come forward in May or June of last year, but it did not come forward - legislation which Mr Stanhope or anybody else in this place who is concerned about it could have introduced if they wanted to but did not do so. It was not introduced; the issue did not arise. There is no argument now but that this legislation is adversely retrospective and does remove a criminal immunity which certain citizens of this Territory may presently enjoy.
Mr Speaker, I again have to appeal to members of this place who do not appear to be listening to this debate, members of the crossbench who are critical in this debate, to pay attention to what is being said in this debate. It concerns me greatly that we are going to take an unprecedented step in this chamber today, potentially.
Mr Berry: Oh, Gary!
MR HUMPHRIES: It is, Mr Berry. Interject, then. Tell me where we have done this before.
Mr Berry: You were going to do it yourself. Crocodile tears.
MR HUMPHRIES: Tell me where.
Mr Berry: Just crocodile tears.
MR HUMPHRIES: We have not done it before, have we, Mr Berry? This is the first time that we have imposed a criminal liability by retrospective legislation, is it not, Mr Berry? Admit it.
Mr Berry: The hospital never got blown up before and there was never a 12-month inquiry.