Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 847 ..
concerns some people have relate to the definitions. I would therefore urge members to address this matter sensibly and responsibly. Look, do not blindly commit ourselves to supporting the legislation before us today-some or perhaps all of the amendments. To do so I believe will by inference suggest that we are also accepting the second stage of this legislation.
Again, I am not prepared to blindly accept a second stage of this legislation. I wish to know what we are looking at in detail in this first stage. I certainly make no judgment in relation to the second stage because I believe I have a responsibility, as do the other 16 members of this house, to look at all legislation carefully-and not be driven by emotion, political correctness, or the justifiable righteousness of the proposed legislation. Irrespective of all those things, Mr Speaker, we still have a responsibility to examine the legislation carefully as elected representatives of the 320,000 people who live in this territory. I would urge members to consider and support referral to a committee to enable these matters to be looked at carefully.
MRS BURKE (11.45): I do not have a prepared speech, but I wanted to pick up on a couple of comments Ms Dundas made in opening. To be done properly and done right the first time is of paramount importance to me. I am a compassionate person, with many friends in the gay and lesbian community. I want to ensure that this process is not rushed through, in order that those people inadvertently become more disenfranchised than they are now. Why should we be rushing a bill through so quickly? That is my question. We must protect the rights of all human beings and all individuals, but why rush? What is the rush?
I agree that the government's approach has been questionable. There are people who ring me constantly, from both sides. I am communicating with people from all walks of life on this matter. They say, "I haven't had my chance to have a proper say."
I am very concerned about that. I am concerned that, whilst many in the gay and lesbian community have had an opportunity, many still have not. I am concerned that people who were not understanding what we are trying to do today still do not understand. We are going to have an impact on 37 acts. Do all of us in this place really know the ramifications of each of those acts in what we are going to do?
I am definitely not against working towards equality, for the purpose of the rights of these people being acknowledged. As Ms Dundas said, we must acknowledge the reality and diversity of our community. However, as Mr Cornwell said, we have a responsibility in this place to examine legislation carefully and considerately, considering the people-the very people we are talking about today-and how we could inadvertently make some comment that does more harm than good.
I would agree too that perhaps-could this be said?-it is Labor playing catch-up with the Democrats, I know a lot of work has been done. As Mr Hargreaves said, the government has worked long and hard, but it would seem mostly in camera. I do not know of many forums and opportunities that have been open for people to talk about this. That is why I think the idea of a committee, which has been raised this morning, could be a great idea.