Page 3746 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 18 October 2005

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So we come to this pass. The legislation is now being dealt with essentially out of session. COAG is not to be reconvened and we are now going through an approval process of the bill—our bill; the legislation of the states and territories, which is being developed almost in an agency capacity by the commonwealth—in which we, the states and territories, come to a formal position, which we will convey to the Prime Minister in response to a request from him for us to do so on whether we are prepared to support the legislation.

As I have indicated, I am not prepared to sign off on this piece of legislation. That is the end of it. Once it is introduced, the role of the states and territories is at an end. In order for me to sign off on this legislation, I want external advice; I want advice from my own officials; and I want to take the people of Canberra into my confidence.

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Can you explain to the Assembly the meaning of the term “draft in confidence”?

MR STANHOPE: It needs to be understood that the shadow attorney obviously does not understand or has not listened to what I just said. I can go around stamping anything on any document anywhere around town. I could walk into a shop across the street and stamp on the cover of a book “draft in confidence”, but it would have absolutely no force or effect.

The Prime Minister can purport to stamp on a piece of legislation developed collegially “draft in confidence”, but he does not have the capacity or the authority to stamp it, on my behalf, on a piece of legislation in relation to which I have a stake. The Prime Minister can stamp “draft in confidence” on anything he wants, just as I can. But he cannot, by simply stamping “draft in confidence” on a piece of legislation in relation to which I have a stake and in relation to which I am a stakeholder, expect me to be bound by it, just as, if I were to stamp on a document that you produced—for instance, your Liberal Party membership list, of which I have a copy—if I were to stamp “draft in confidence” on your membership list—

Mr Stefaniak: I hope you do that.

MR STANHOPE: Precisely. Mr Stefaniak advises me to do precisely that. But would he then actually regard himself as bound by the “draft in confidence” that I might put on the Liberal Party membership list? Would he or would he not? He would say, “Well, that’s illegitimate. You have no authority over the Liberal Party’s membership list.” You might even insist I do not have a right to have it, but I have it. I might stamp “draft in confidence” on it. Would you take any notice of that? Of course you would not take any notice of that. You would regard it as a completely illegitimate exercise of power by me in relation to something over which I have no power.

That applies precisely to this legislation. I can wander around town stamping “draft in confidence” on anything I see. But if it is an illegitimate exercise of any power or authority I have in relation to that document, of course, everybody else will simply ignore it. I and all the states and the Northern Territory have an equal stake in this piece of legislation with the commonwealth: it is a joint legislation-making process. The legislation was developed as a result of a reference of ACT constitutional power, just as

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