Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 4151 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
The amendment moved by Ms Tucker clarifies the situation and a person would not commit an offence against this provision because they took part in a protest, strike or lockout, one of the democratic freedoms that we hold dear in Australia. I am happy to support this amendment and glad that we have been able to have this debate in which everybody has stated that they could never see how this law could be used in that way and actually ensure that this law could never be used in the way in which we fear.
MR CORNWELL (7.48): I must say that I was very impressed with the Attorney-General's comments. In fact, I am surprised that Mr Stanhope has bothered to go along with Ms Tucker's amendment. I can only assume that the Labor Party has been rather skilfully trapped-I would not say conned-by the words of the amendment as it talks about strikes or lockouts, because if you look at the Concise Oxford Dictionary definition of sabotage, you will see, "Malicious or wanton destruction, especially by dissatisfied workmen or by hostile agents."
As I recall, the word "sabotage"comes from "sabot", the wooden shoe that French peasants wear. I seem to recall that in the late 1800s when there was some industrial disturbance, these shoes were being put on railway lines to stop trains-I may be wrong on that-or were being used to clog up fairly rudimentary pieces of machinery. Whatever, the fact is that the way the words "strike"and "lockout"have been put skilfully into this amendment may have influenced the government's view on it.
I am concerned about the other word, "protest", because, as you said, Mr Attorney, you and, presumably, your government were never in doubt that the existing legislation was adequate to cover any eventuality. We have had a great deal of talk about human rights and Ms Tucker has talked about peaceful assembly. In what category does the tearing down of the Woomera fence fit in this regard? What about the demonstrations at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Sydney? Is that peaceful assembly or middle-class anarchy?
Ms Tucker comes out and talks about the stance of the National Rifle Association in the USA on the right to bear arms and that sort of thing, conveniently ignoring evidence of considerable anarchy-not simple protest, but considerable anarchy-in Sydney and Woomera. I use those two simply as examples of the so-called peaceful demonstrations getting out of hand. Who is going to deal with that, Mr Attorney? Will this provision now allow this type of thing to go on in Canberra and a bunch of smart left wing lawyers to jump up and say, "Just a moment, please. Section 123 (2), given to us by courtesy of the Greens, provides that a person who takes part in a protest is exempt and the degree of exemption does fit with tearing down fences and behaving in a generally uncivilised fashion."
I wonder about that. I wonder whether you should reconsider voting against this proposal, Mr Attorney, because, as you said yourself, you felt that there was adequate control in the existing legislation. I am not at all convinced that we should be going along with this amendment. I do believe that there is a certain arrogance among many of these protesters and a belief that, because they think that it is right, therefore it is right. Many of them are misguided. Many of them, I repeat, are middle-class anarchists with indulgent parents who are quite happy to allow them to carry on like that.