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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 4152 ..

MR CORNWELL (continuing):

Of course, the first thing that happens when there is any attempt to curb them is that everybody starts screaming about human rights. What about the other side? So far, I have heard lots of criticism of the police and allegations that sometimes they behave in a nefarious way. What about the police? What about the other people involved in this sort of thing? When you have such a group protesting violently in the streets, what effect does that have upon society? What effect does that have upon the discipline of people?

Ms Tucker finds it amusing, but Ms Tucker's idea, I have no doubt, of a Green government would be a bit like living in Puritan England without the hymns, I suggest. It would be a very boring place. But we must allow for Ms Tucker's sense of outrage against anything that appears to smack of an attack on proper, lawful demonstration. I do not mind peaceful marches, peaceful demonstrations of that nature, but I just feel that by slipping in "person takes part in a protest", which is unexplained, we are simply giving lawyers an opportunity to have a field day. I think that the government was right in the first place in its belief that the proposed legislation is adequate and we simply do not need this extra little spin to help the Greens' left-wing mates.

MS TUCKER (7.55): I think Mr Cornwell just spoke in support of my amendment, although I was a bit confused about the reference to a boring place of hymns. I could not quite see how that fitted in, Mr Cornwell, but maybe I just was not concentrating.

I would like to respond briefly to some of Mr Stanhope's points. I do not recall ever suggesting that this legislation was developed after the events of September 11. I do not know why Mr Stanhope suggested that I said that. I thought I had made it quite clear that the concerns that are coming quite broadly from the community on these pieces of legislation post-September 11 are that they can be used in a way that they would not have been used before and there are legitimate concerns about the potential for civil liberties to be diminished by the interpretation of existing laws in the climate of fear in which we now live.

I would also like to make quite clear, because Mr Stanhope may have misrepresented me, perhaps not intentionally, that I have not at any point said that I do not think there is concern regarding security threats in this country. When I bring an amendment like this to this place it is not because I do not think we need to be careful. It is about trying to achieve a balance. That is what I am trying to do with this amendment.

Mr Stanhope also spoke of the importance of intention. As I understand it, the intention that would also be looked at is the intention to cause disruption. It is not just about an intention to create a situation where a political point can be raised. I think that the question of intention can also go to the intention of actually causing a disruption. Taking the example of the black ban that I cited, there was an intention to disrupt the work situation because of an unacceptable work practice at that time. Also, that was classified as a major disruption, and a major disruption is one of the moot points in this regard.

This debate has been useful in terms of enabling the government which introduced the legislation to make clear the intention of it. I am not suggesting that this government would actually abuse this sort of legislation, but in creating law we have to take into account the potential for other interpretations. The debate today, apart from Mr Cornwell's contribution, would help any court to understand the intention of this legislation.

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