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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (27 February) . . Page.. 303 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The Government firmly believes that the measures in the bill are necessary for those occasions, which though uncommon ... are not unprecedented, where the nature of a matter before the Courts means that there is a risk of potential harm to the Court, its staff or members of the public.

We all agree with that, Bill, but you actually do not justify why, in light of all those policies and principles which the scrutiny of bills committee details in its report, you need to actually enact this legislation today and in this particular form. I think it is an issue, and I urge all members of the Assembly to give consideration to what we are doing to a system that has stood us in good stead for years, if not perhaps centuries. We continually chip away at systems that are there in place for very good reasons. We are, for the first time, in effect, allowing a security officer-not a trained police officer, but a security officer, not answerable to the court, not answerable to a judicial officer-a discretion to exclude from a court anybody that they believe cannot justify their presence in the court.

I think that there is fine tuning to be done-and so does the Bar Association of the ACT. Issues around the extent of that discretion should be dealt with, and this bill should not be passed in its current form. And that is the view of the Labor Party. We would prefer the government to actually take seriously that range of concerns and to amend the bill and reintroduce it.

We are prepared to support this bill if the government adopts that attitude. If the government does not adopt that attitude, the Labor Party will not support it.

MS TUCKER (10.54): I have actually had for a week or so, because we asked for it, a copy of this letter that Mr Stanhope has just been talking about, but I would support Mr Stanhope's concerns about the quality of the response and also the timing. Clearly it is very concerning when we have these sorts of things tabled while the debate is actually on. Mr Stanhope obviously was able to address this response quickly because it was so incredibly minimalist-so he was able to do it on the spot. I guess that is my major concern about this whole process because the government has, as Mr Stanhope said, responded with a page which basically says, "The Assembly can make up its mind and we think it's fine."

But here we have pages of comments from the scrutiny of bills committee, which I thought was a committee of this place that people thought mattered. I actually thought that people in parliaments thought that scrutiny of bills committees were useful and to be given serious regard. It does not look like that, of course, with this government, and we have made the comment before. There are just a couple of fundamental concerns that have been raised through the scrutiny of bills committee, and I will just read onto the record a couple of them because I think anybody who is supporting this legislation has to respond in detail to these concerns.

One quote from the scrutiny of bills committee is:

The courts have attached great weight to the right of a person to enter and remain in a court. This right is the essential underpinning to the notion that the administration of justice by courts should be 'in the open'.

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