Page 2416 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 29 June 2005

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to try to make sure that the law provides an even playing field, that the rich and powerful are discouraged from using the law as a sledgehammer. This is why I am putting forward this legislation.

The Court Procedures (Protection of Public Participation) Amendment Bill 2005 is a measure to ensure that groups and individuals have the freedom to speak about corporations, the freedom to speak on matters of public interest and the freedom to speak without fear of unspecified damages. It does not endorse or support illegal activity. The courts will still deal with cases where the law has been broken and remedies will still be available to corporations and others through the courts. This bill does not encourage people to protest or undertake public campaigns on issues of concern. This bill instead removes some of the potential impediments to public participation in such campaigns.

The Court Procedures (Protection of Public Participation) Amendment Bill 2005 will go some way to levelling the playing field so that when members of the public come up against the rich and powerful, as is inevitable in a democratic society, wealth and power will not have an unfair advantage. I am sorry there is no explanatory statement with this bill. I will endeavour to table an explanatory statement in the August sitting weeks. I conclude by saying that I commend this bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hargreaves) adjourned to the next sitting.

Crimes Amendment Bill 2005

Debate resumed from 6 April 2005, on motion by Mr Pratt:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella—Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (11.01): One of the big issues for all of us in this place is that, every now and again, we get a challenge thrown down to us. Most of the time we can pick them up and bat them back, and it is pretty easy; but some of the others require an enormous amount of thought. We sometimes have to dive into the inner depths of our hearts to find out whether or not something sits well with our consciences. We sometimes look at the way in which an argument is presented to see whether or not we believe the argument is something we could go with or whether it is opening the doors to something else we will have to deal with. That was the tussle I had when dealing with the legislation being put forward by Mr Pratt.

I do not doubt Mr Pratt’s motives in this instance one bit. I guess if I have worries, they are about whether or not we have opened the door to something else without covering that off. I am a bit concerned because, in respect of unborn children, I am sure each and every one of us has a different view. Some of us are closer than others. I am on the record here as having said—and I reiterate this—that my belief is that life begins at conception. Some people disagree with that, and that is their right. It is their right to represent that view in this place.

When I was looking at the legislation I was very keen to make sure it did protect the life it was purported to be protecting and that it was not a cover for another debate. We have

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