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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (21 October) . . Page.. 3428 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

understanding by the majority of the community that this is offensive subordinate legislation. It has its origins in offensive legislation. For those reasons this regulation should be amended in the form that I have proposed.

MR SPEAKER: Just before I call Mr Kaine, I would just like to make a point. It has been drawn to my attention, Mr Berry, that you may have indicated that I have stated that I would abstain from voting. If so, I am sure that was an inadvertent comment on your part. I want to make it quite clear to members. I can do this best by quoting from the original debate. I said:

I will not support in this house any subsequent motions or legislation on this contentious issue from either side.

It is fairly clear that I will vote no, irrespective of what comes up on this particular issue from either side of the house in future. That applies to today's debate as well. I just wanted to clarify that in case members may have imagined I was going to abstain.

MR KAINE (11.21): I am quite concerned at being asked to debate and vote on this matter this morning. The first time I saw this motion was when I received the notice paper at about nine or 9.15 this morning. That means that, together with all the other material on this paper, I have not had an opportunity to go to Subordinate Law 15 and Subordinate Law 23, which I did not even know about until 10 minutes ago, to see what the effect of these amendments would be. I do not have copies of those documents here, and I do not know what the effect of the omission of clause 4 on page 2 will be. I do not know what the content of page 3 of the schedule which the motion seeks to omit contains. I am being asked to debate and vote on this matter completely in the dark. I think that is inappropriate. I would ask Mr Berry whether he would consider having the matter adjourned until another day so that we can at least acquaint ourselves with the documents and be fully informed on what it is that we are being asked to do. I would have moved an adjournment myself, but I thought Mr Berry should know that I am uncertain about what he is asking us to do. In my uncertainty, like you, Mr Speaker, I will vote no. I am not going to vote yes for something I do not understand the consequences of.

I was somewhat disturbed by the tone of Mr Berry's speech in introducing this motion. On a number of occasions he repeated the words "narrow moral view". I do not know whose view he is referring to. The supporters of the existing law, which he now purports to change, in my opinion, do not represent a narrow moral view at all. They represent a very widely held public view. It is very easy for Mr Berry or somebody else to get up in this place and discount or depreciate the value of somebody else's opinion when it does not coincide with your own.

To denigrate the people who support the current law in the way that Mr Berry did is quite unacceptable. I do not believe I represent a narrow moral view. In fact, I could almost argue that Mr Berry does, because he also linked those words with "extremists". I am no extremist on this or any other subject, but I do happen to have an opinion about it. I have noted in the debate on these issues that the extreme view very often comes from the side of the argument that Mr Berry represents. No compromise is acceptable. There is only one view, and it is the view that they adopt.

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