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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3171 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

acknowledging that human rights are universal and are worth acknowledging and protecting. That's my view and the view of this government.

Mr Sexton raises an issue in relation to the expansive nature of the draft bill that the ACT bill of rights consultative committee has prepared and issued for the government. Certainly, in relation to the proposals that we have received from the consultative committee to incorporate in a proposed bill of rights the economic, social and cultural rights, there are, indeed, some significant questions to be answered and submissions to be worked through. As I indicated when I provided members with that report, a whole of range of issues and a whole range of work needs to be considered in preparation of the government's response to that report and to a particular proposed human rights act.

I think some of the big issues and some of the really big questions that we face in relation to our consideration of whether or not to proceed with the enactment of a bill of rights are issues around the implications for the ACT and certainly for the ACT public service in seeking to administer a bill of rights that incorporates the full range of social, economic and cultural rights as proposed by the consultative committee, acknowledging that the only other bill of rights in the world which incorporates those rights is that which was implemented by South Africa. It is, indeed, the case that, as things stand, the most progressive and far reaching bill of rights in the many jurisdictions or places around the world that have bills of rights is in South Africa.

I think that is interesting in itself, isn't it-an emerging nation, a nation that emerged out of a century of strife and discrimination and certainly out of the gloom and doom of a repressive regime has, I guess, as a response to its history, seen fit to legislate a very expansive bill of rights, a constitution that entrenches a whole range of social, cultural and economic rights for the people of South Africa.

This is a task that frightens certainly those on the opposition bench in this place, even in discussion-

Mr Stefaniak: Doesn't that tell you something?

MR STANHOPE: It does, actually, Bill, but we won't go there today. It says a lot to me about the state or status and nature of leadership in this nation in relation to a whole range of issues.

They are significant issues. Mr Sexton has a view. There are many views that can be advanced to rebut the legalistic and the narrow view that Mr Sexton promotes. Certainly, when I come to deliver this government's response to the draft bill and the report we have received we will address each and all of those particular issues.

Mr Stefaniak, I think many of us acknowledge there is a real strength and benefit to the community in a community being prepared and having the courage to stand up and say, "These are rights. We have confidence in ourselves to acknowledge that these are the rights that we acknowledge as being universal and fundamental. We, as a government and as a community, are prepared to be accountable and we are prepared to be regarded and judged according to our commitment to these rights."I think that is a good position to put.

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