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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 779 ..

Mr Berry: I take a point of order.

MR SPEAKER: One moment, Mr Moore, please.

Mr Berry: Is "dangerously close to misleading the Assembly" an imputation, Mr Speaker? I just want to get a ruling on that for future use.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Moore withdrew the words "misleading the Assembly".

Mr Stanhope: And then he went on to say, "dangerously close". We will just use this for future reference, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: I will check it.

MR MOORE: Mr Speaker, just to save the difficulty, I withdraw any imputation about Mr Stanhope misleading the Assembly, but I will put these facts before the Assembly. In writing to Mr Stanhope, Mr Humphries copied to him a letter that he had written at the time to Mr Osborne. In that letter he said:

But I am loath to present a Bill to the Assembly which potentially and retrospectively alters the grounds for the prosecution of an offence without seriously considering the implications of such an action.

Those were the words that Mr Stanhope had in front of him. Indeed, his response indicated that he had read Mr Osborne's letter and had responded to it. He could not expect that Mr Humphries would suddenly come in and introduce legislation in the Assembly, because Mr Humphries had said, "I am loath to". In the spirit of a nonpartisan approach he had gone to Mr Osborne and he had gone to Mr Stanhope and said, "I am loath to do it. There is an issue of principle here that is most important". Mr Stanhope now says to Mr Humphries, "You should have done it. We expected you to do it". He had told you clearly that he was loath to do it. He was loath to do it retrospectively and you failed, Mr Stanhope, to address the issue of retrospectivity.

I have always suspected, Mr Stanhope, that when you took over the Civil Liberties Council, when you crunched the numbers and took over the Civil Liberties Council, it was more about politics. You knocked off Laurie O'Sullivan, who had been head of the Civil Liberties Council for a long time. That is a reasonable thing; that is how democratic processes work. But I suspected for a long time that it was more about politics than it was about civil liberties, so for you to come in here and support this legislation really makes me suspect more than ever that it was just about politics, because this is a very clear issue of tyranny and a very clear issue of retrospectivity. I think the reason it is is very important. The reason it is is that it resurrects a liability which ceased to exist. That is fundamental. A person today does not have a liability and the right of the person to believe that they are free from liability exists under legislation.

Mr Humphries: That is right. Protection at law.

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