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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (21 April) . . Page.. 1038 ..

MR MOORE: That is the case, Mr Wood. Why do we put these delays into law? We have it in a number of pieces of law, as I mentioned earlier. Why do we put these in place? We do it because we think there is good reason. In the past this Assembly has believed that there were good reasons to limit the amount of time that a liability existed. If we have got that wrong, it is correct to prospectively correct that. There is no question about it. If we have got it wrong, prospectively correct it, but do not retrospectively change things by this sort of amendment, because it is an appalling precedent that we set, even though it is on a small matter.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (11.26): Mr Speaker, I want to make one small contribution in response to an interjection from Mr Wood. Mr Wood suggested that the reason that these unnamed people who will now potentially be subject to prosecution were once subject to liability but then passed out of that phase was some act or omission of mine.

Mr Wood: You were going to fix it but you did not.

MR HUMPHRIES: That is not the case. They passed out of a period of liability because of the operation of the law of the Territory.

Mr Wood: Which you were going to fix, but you did not.

MR HUMPHRIES: Whether I was going to fix it or not, Mr Wood, does not alter the fact that these people had that protection.

Mr Wood: It is sophistry.

MR HUMPHRIES: It is not sophistry. It is an important point. Members in this place can giggle. Ms Tucker can laugh about this, but it is an important principle. We are dealing here with people's liability to criminal action. It is a very important matter. You still have to address the fundamental issue. Even if I had been grossly negligent in my duties in not bringing forward a Bill of that kind - I did not believe in such a Bill; that is why I did not bring it forward - why should these people be targeted? Why should they be facing the liability? It is they who are being punished, not me.

Mr Moore: It is about civil liberties.

MR HUMPHRIES: That is right. It is about civil liberties, the sorts of things that people in this place generally argue very strongly for. Now, today, you apparently do not care about them. Mr Speaker, it is a shameful exercise in using the power of the law to create a liability in people who presently do not have to face that liability.

Question put:

That the amendment (Mr Berry's ) be agreed to.

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