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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2107 ..

MR SPEAKER: Do you want to speak, Mr Stanhope?


MR SPEAKER: You may speak.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (11.45): I speak to express continuing concerns about the way this matter is being handled. The position of the Labor Party, following the investigation that we have been able to make of this Bill, is that it is probably worth supporting. That is our in-principle position. But in terms of process in this place, I think it is worth repeating the way this has been handled. It was introduced yesterday.

Ms Carnell: But we gave it to you last week.

Mr Humphries: Yes, we gave it to you last week.

MR STANHOPE: It was introduced yesterday and it is being debated today. The legal advice on which the legislation is based was delivered to my office at about 10 o'clock this morning. The vital piece of information in terms of our capacity to properly assess this legislation was introduced to our office at 10 o'clock this morning. Interestingly, that legal advice was written nearly two years ago. The legal advice is dated 1998 and here we are having this rammed down our throats as so pressing a piece of legislation that it was introduced yesterday and is being debated and supposedly passed today. This piece of legal advice is dated 1998. Now, all of a sudden, this matter is so important, so vital, so pressing, on the basis of a legal advice over 18 months old, that it has to be dealt with immediately. This is the process that we have come to.

The first piece of legal advice provided today is dated 1996. The advice is over three years old, and all of a sudden this matter is so pressing that it has to be dealt with the day after it is tabled. It is incredible that we are having this rammed through, rammed down our throats, on the basis of an issue that has been around for three or four years. The Government believes it is so imperative that it has to be dealt with, that this loophole has to be closed, with one day's notice, on the basis of legal advice that is over three years old.

Ms Carnell: It's not one day's notice. We circulated it last week. You know that.

MR STANHOPE: The legislation was introduced yesterday. We received a letter with some papers that actually did not advance the case at all last Friday. So the matter was around for six days before introduction, and we are expected to debate it after one day. It is to be noted, Mr Speaker, that the scrutiny of Bills committee does raise some issues about it. That committee's report was tabled this morning. Just look at the timetable in relation to this. Legal advice that is either two or three years old was provided to us at 10 o'clock this morning. We did not get the scrutiny of Bills report until after 10.30 this morning. The Bill, which actually does affect the rights of some individuals in this community in a serious way, was tabled yesterday, and we are debating it one day later.

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