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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (27 February) . . Page.. 302 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

On that particular issue, I make the point that, in terms of the operations of the Assembly, it concerns me that the scrutiny of bills committee has presented a detailed report on this particular bill-and an excellent report. It is a report that goes into some detail about the issues that must be taken into account when we consider legislation such as this, so that as legislators we are all aware of what we are doing-what principles that have applied probably for centuries we are undermining.

I am talking about principles about the operation of justice and the openness of courts, and the need for justice to be transparent, the need for justice to be seen to be done, and the need for anybody that wishes to appear before a court to observe the operations of justice to have that untrammelled right. These are the sorts of issues that are discussed in this report-fundamental freedoms that we have enjoyed and that ensure the nature and strength of justice that we have in this country.

I am talking about principles that have ensured that each of us, as citizens of this place, has a range of rights and liberties that protect us when we perhaps find ourselves before the court. These are quite fundamental principles-principles that we should not toy with, principles that we should not just flick out the window on the basis of an unexplained need to enhance security at courts.

Of course, these issues are difficult to debate in a political context. Who could deny the need to ensure that judicial officials and people attending courts are absolutely safe and protected in all instances against violence? Who could argue against that? Who would argue against it? No-one.

So we rush into the acceptance of these sorts of laws, and we do it in the face of a detailed discussion by the scrutiny of bills committee which, it seems to me, is basically just ignored-actually observed; the Attorney gives it one sentence. This is the Attorney's response to the scrutiny of bills committee, which was tabled five minutes ago and which we did not have an opportunity to look at or address in any event. The Attorney addresses the seven pages of the scrutiny of bills committee in these words:

I have given the Committee's comments about the underlying policy of the ... Bill careful consideration, and would agree with the Committee that ultimately it is for the Assembly to consider the merits of the proposals.

And that is how the Attorney dismisses seven pages of quite detailed commentary.

Mr Stefaniak: Keep reading, there is a paragraph there.

MR STANHOPE: What, on that?

Mr Stefaniak: The government's feeling on that, et cetera.

MR STANHOPE: Yes, you have considered the merits and you think they are fine.

Mr Stefaniak: Yes.

MR STANHOPE: All right. To be fair to the Attorney, it continues:

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