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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3172 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

I think a bill of rights, at the end of the day, is essentially a very clear statement of a government's or a community's willingness to be accountable for the decisions it makes and for the laws it passes. As you know, it is a proposal or a prospect which has my very strong support.

MR STEFANIAK: A supplementary question. Have you done any research on the impact that this tidal wave of legislation will have on our court system; if not, why not?

MR STANHOPE: Mr Stefaniak, the report that was prepared by the bill of rights consultative committee for the ACT government, I think, is a masterly piece of scholarship and of research and is the fruit of widespread consultation with the people of the ACT. As you know, Mr Stefaniak, the chair of the consultative committee was Professor Hilary Charlesworth, the head of the Institute of Public Affairs at the Australian National University, a world-leading institute of public affairs. Professor Hilary Charlesworth, that academic acknowledged throughout the world as one of the world's leading rights lawyers or advocates, is almost without peer in terms of her scholarship, her understanding of issues around rights and rights regimes.

Mr Stefaniak: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I actually asked the Chief Minister had he done any research on the impact of this wave of legislation on our court system. I'd ask him to stick to the question and confine himself to the subject matter. He's drifting off rather badly.

MR SPEAKER: Come to the point of the question, please, Chief Minister.

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. And I am indeed. I engaged a world-leading expert in rights, namely, Professor Hilary Charlesworth, and I am concerned at the fact that my description of Professor Hilary Charlesworth as a world-leading expert in relation to rights is a matter of mirth for the shadow Attorney-General.

Mr Stefaniak: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: my point of order is the same. He has to confine himself to the subject matter. I didn't ask him about Professor Charlesworth. I asked him about the impact and had he done any research on the impact of his legislation on the court system.

MR STANHOPE: That's what I'm saying. Yes, I have. I engaged Professor Hilary Charlesworth, Professor Larissa Behrendt, Ms Penelope Layland and Ms Elisabeth Kelly-and I would think they are amongst the most intelligent team of experts and professionals in relation to this particular issues-and I asked them to actually investigate on behalf of the ACT government and the people of the ACT these very real issues.

One of the issues they went to in their consultation and in their research was, of course: what are the implications of implementing a bill of rights? One of the issues is that which Mr Sexton raised-a rather tired and discredited old argument that there will be a tidal wave of litigation. Of course, that's what people say every week. Whenever a bill of rights is proposed, the opponents come out with four or five standard arguments, each of which is always rebutted and in relation to each of which

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