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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 4101 ..

Bill of rights poll

MS DUNDAS: My question is for the Attorney-General. Mr Stanhope, considering your government's repeated commitments to involve and consult with young people, can you please explain why people under the age of 18 were excluded from the microcosm of the ACT that made up the participants in the deliberative poll on the bill of rights?

MR STANHOPE: That is a very interesting question, Ms Dundas-thank you for that. The deliberative poll was organised and arranged by Australia Deliberates whose principal, as you are probably aware, is Dr Pamela Ryan.

The ACT government was not involved in the administrative arrangements for the deliberative poll. The deliberative poll revolved around the identification of and contact with around about 800 randomly selected ACT residents over the age of 18. I did not question that. It is an interesting point that you raise.

In the context of the modus operandi of Deliberations Australia, perhaps they used the electoral roll. I do not know how the pollsters employed by Deliberations Australia made their random selections.

Perhaps the selections were made-I do not know, I am just postulating here as to how the cohort was randomly selected-either through the electoral roll or the phone book. I do not know the answer to that. If I could find out the answer to that, I could probably answer your question.

I heard Dr Ryan say yesterday that one of the interesting facts in relation to the age spread and the age differential through each of the age groupings, traditionally applied, was that there was an over-representation in the 18 to 24-year age group as against national per capita averages and that, similarly, there was an over-representation of people over the age of 55. The area in which there was the greatest under-representation was the age group from 34 to 55. It may be that those under the age of 18 were under-represented insofar as none were approached, so there were none within the group of randomly selected Canberrans.

MS DUNDAS: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, can you please explain how young people and their rights will then be included in any ongoing discussions on the bill of rights, as to whether or not we have one and what it will be?

MR STANHOPE: It needs to be remembered that the deliberative poll was just one part of the extensive consultations which have formed part of the bill of rights considerations and consultations. The process has been going on for eight or nine months. There were well-advertised calls for public submissions and well-advertised notifications of public meetings. Each of the members of the consultative committee has now met with, appeared before and held discussions with dozens of ACT-based community organisations.

Consultation is difficult. That is why I was interested in the deliberative poll concept as an experiment, as a way of broadening and enhancing our methods of consultation. There is no doubt that the traditional methods of consultation-namely the call for public submissions, the holding of public meetings and the gathering of people together-

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