Page 3716 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 18 October 2005
MR STANHOPE: This is a serious motion around a serious issue. I have just provided some background to the reason or genesis for the motion. The reason or genesis for this motion, other than that it is a weekly event, is that the Leader of the Opposition desperately needs to seek to assert some leadership to detract attention from his own shortcomings. This is one way to seek to achieve that. It is a very important matter and the explanation, or the rationalisation, of the chain of events as described by Mr Smyth is essentially puerile. It has missed the point completely. It misunderstands the history of the matter and does not go to the fundamentally important questions we are dealing with in this legislation. In the first instance, that is a need and a determination for Australia as a nation to respond to, attack and deal with issues presented by the prospect of terrorism within Australia.
Something I take enormously seriously is the fundamentally important role and responsibility of governments to ensure that their communities are protected from all criminal behaviour, including that which would be perpetrated by terrorists. It is important, however, as we consider the responses we should be making as governments and communities to the threat of terrorism, to ensure that the steps we take are appropriate, that they will work and will respond to the threat—that they will not create a backlash, that they will not of themselves exacerbate the situations we find, and that they will indeed assist us in the task. That is the attitude I have always taken. It is not right to suggest that I ever went to COAG saying that I would not support a combined, united or national legislative approach, or an additional legislative approach, in our response to terrorism. I did not say that at all, as suggested by Mr Smyth today. That is simply not true.
My position was clear. It is very public and it is in writing for anybody who wants to check the record to see whether or not the sorts of wild assertions made just now by Mr Smyth in relation to the attitude I took prior to the meeting, and that I took publicly, really can be put to the test. The lie can be shown by simply reading the record. The record shows that I went to the meeting saying it was necessary for the Prime Minister to justify a new legislative regime.
Is it unreasonable to ask the proponent of a legislative package to justify it? That is what I did. I said, “Justify it.” I then said that any package must be civil rights and human rights consistent and must be framed in the context of respect for civil liberties and human rights. That is my position; that is the position of this government. I would have hoped it was the position of every government and indeed of every member of this place that, in developing legislation of any sort, of any order, but particularly legislation of the order that was likely to be discussed, one would insist that it respect the rule of law, fundamental civil liberties and human rights. That was the position I took to the meeting.
As is also on the public record and a matter of public note, I took to that meeting of COAG eight requirements in relation to a legislative package, and I put those on the table. They went to issues around the basis on which somebody might, for instance, be detained or be subjected to an order—that there must be effective judicial oversight, including the right of detainees to know the reasons for their detention and the right to challenge its lawfulness before a court. The laws must uphold the principle that detention should be kept to a minimum period, consistent with community safety. The laws must protect the rights of detainees to have independent access to lawyers. The laws must give