Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 3288 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
I have been through the Hansard to see what was said on the previous occasion and no-one made that point. Ex post facto, trying to distinguish that occasion from this occasion, they have come up with a formula which is vital, apparently, to the operation of retrospective legislation in this place, but which was not mentioned on the occasion it was actually used. It was not mentioned, Mr Speaker. The fact is that there is no distinction between these two occasions. If it was proper to retrospectively extend these rights or remove these rights earlier this year, in April, then it is equally proper to do so now. But those opposite have not got the guts to follow through on the iniquity of what they did last time round by doing so again, and the record will show their inconsistency on this matter.
I wish to make one last point, Mr Speaker. This is not the end of the issue about retrospectivity. I have written to Mr Stanhope and, I think, to others on the crossbench, at least others in this place who supported the retrospective amendment to the legislation in April, and pointed out that another issue of retrospectivity of exactly the same kind has arisen recently, that is, the potential prosecution of a number of people for sexual offences committed between, I think, 1976 and 1985. Prosecutions will not now go ahead unless members choose to retrospectively reimpose provisions which provided for expired limitation periods, that is, that they re-establish the criminal nature of those acts which, allegedly, were performed between 1976 and 1985. That is exactly the same issue, precisely the same issue, and I am yet to hear from any of the members I wrote to inviting them to consider whether they would retrospectively legislate in respect of that matter. Mr Speaker, it will not be the last matter where this arises. There will be other occasions as well and members ought to consider what kind of precedent they have set in respect of that matter.
MR BERRY (3.55): Humiliation has a lasting effect on Mr Humphries. He did write to Mr Stanhope, trying to goad him about ancient events and laws that were made before self-government. Mr Speaker, there is no way that history can be changed merely by a couple of speeches and a couple of protests by Mr Humphries in relation to this matter. If Mr Humphries believes that there is something which the Attorney-General, the first law officer of the ACT, should deal with in relation to those matters which he raised in correspondence, perhaps he will try to deal with them. Apparently, Mr Humphries has been deeply scarred by the events - - -
MR SPEAKER: I am sick and tired of this batting back and forth, playing the man not the ball. I want the Magistrates Court Amendment Bill (No 2) put to the Assembly.
MR BERRY: You will get the chance to vote for it in a minute, Mr Speaker. No matter how much you protest, it is not going to change history. It was discovered in the course of the inquiry - - -
MR SPEAKER: I am ruling this conversation out of order.
MR HUMPHRIES (Treasurer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Community Safety) (3.56): Mr Speaker, I have to put on record a matter relating to the activities of the court at the moment. It is important that I do so.
MR SPEAKER: Very well.