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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . . Page.. 286 ..

I repeat:

The court has nothing to do with the question whether the legislation has committed an absurdity.

Read Mr Everson's advice. It sets out succinctly the points that I make. It makes it quite clear that, having accidentally omitted to use the word "serious", you cannot suddenly conjure it up as if it is there and pretend that when you have two sections dealing with the same subject and they are using a different formulation they mean the same thing. They manifestly don't. You know, Attorney, under all rules of statutory interpretation, that if you have two sections and one says one thing and the next section says something else, if it omits a single word, then the interpretation must be that it means something else. It has to mean something else, otherwise why use the word "serious" in the first place. So it must have a different meaning.

As for the example we use, I do not apologise for it. It is an example which Mr Everson has said is appropriate in the circumstances. It is an extreme example. I am entitled to use an extreme example to highlight the fact that this government made a promise when it introduced this legislation that there was not a single circumstance in which any person suspected of anything other than a serious offence could possibly be subjected to a DNA test. That was the undertaking, publicly and in this place, and this is the nub of the issue: that if you were not suspected of a serious offence you could not be DNA tested.

This legislation has not kept faith with the government's promise. The government has not delivered what it promised. If you commit a minor offence there are circumstances in which you can be tested, and that is not consistent with the promise which the Chief Minister made-that under no circumstances could you be so tested. You can.

MR KAINE (5.43): Mr Speaker, this has been a stimulating debate between the two learned counsel. It is clearly a serious matter and, on the weight of evidence, I am ruling in favour of the Leader of the Opposition.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (5.44): I might be able to assist there, Mr Speaker. I spoke-

MR SPEAKER: Gentlemen, I am aware, and you should be aware, that this is not a dialogue between two people. We must move on, unless we are prepared to sit late tonight.

MR STEFANIAK: I mentioned earlier, Mr Speaker, that Mr Stanhope's amendment really does not affect the legislation one way or the other. Rather than go round in circles, the government is quite prepared on that basis to put in his amendment because it is not going to affect it one way or the other. I would point out to him-

Mr Stanhope: What an ungracious concession.


STEFANIAK: That's all right. I refer him to his own counsel's opinion, especially the last paragraph on page 1 and the first paragraph on page 2. He should read that, and he should also read the whole section. But at the end of the day, Mr Speaker, it does not

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