Page 3712 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 18 October 2005

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ensure that it is delivered. But the Chief Minister of the ACT would rather go it alone, embarrass the ACT, open it up to ridicule and say, “No, I am not going to sign up to what I agreed to.”

We see in this legislation agreement by all the states and territories that we have a problem, and that it is only through a consistent national effort that we can fix that problem. But we have a Chief Minister who is now proposing that, if necessary, he will write his own legislation. The fear that has been raised by this side of the house for some time now—that we will become the back door for terrorist activity by not having nationally consistent legislation in the ACT—may well be realised.

I go back to the question. If you did not like it, why on earth did you not have the guts to say no in the first place? I am reminded of Peter Walsh’s comments about old jellyback. Did old jellyback sit in the COAG meeting and nod, shake his head, agree and go along with the boys because that was the good thing to do? Then, when he came back, because people pressured him here in the ACT, he simply changed his mind. It begins to look like doing a bit of the hokey-pokey: I put my left foot in, I put my left foot out; I put my left foot in and I shake it all about. That is what we are doing: we are shaking the ACT around and around so Mr Stanhope can simply grandstand. That is what this is about.

How can we forget how he talked up his stout defence of civil liberties before the COAG meeting? How can we forget how those brave words turned out to be nothing more than flim-flam? Never, I think, in the history of the Assembly have we seen such an abject backflip. If there was ever a sign of the gutlessness of the Chief Minister, that was it. He had the opportunity to say his piece, to look the Prime Minister, the Premiers and the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory in the eye and say, “I do not agree.”

He emerged from that meeting in solidarity with those other individuals and said, “I agree”—until he got back to the ACT Assembly and changed his mind. It just appears that, once free of the obviously terrifying presence of his Labor colleagues and the Prime Minister, he came over all brave again—and courageous even, if you read some of the letters in the Canberra Times—and published the draft legislation that had been supplied to him in confidence. Why did he do it? So that there could be community consultation.

It is interesting that nobody in any of the other states seems to be too afraid of the lack of time for consultation. Indeed Mr Lennon, the Premier of Tasmania, has assured Tasmanians that there will be time to debate the anti-terror legislation before it goes ahead. And there is time. Sometimes legislation has to be acted upon quickly. I am sure that, when Mr Stefaniak speaks, he will read out a litany of legislation passed in this Assembly in the past year. Some bills were introduced on a Tuesday and passed on the Thursday because they were urgent. There was absolutely no public consultation undertaken by the government in the case of many of those bills. I am sure the defence will be, “Yes, but they are not as important as this.”

All legislation we pass in this place is important because it has an effect upon the people of the ACT. The Chief Minister, who has escaped the terrifying presence of the Prime Minister and his Labor colleagues, has come over all courageous and published a document supplied to him in confidence. The publishing of this legislation was not an act of courage. Mr Stanhope’s action was, in fact, a breach of faith that betrayed the

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