Page 209 - Week 01 - Thursday, 16 February 2006

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raise, of course, the suggestion that the Liberal Party object to certain groups of human beings within our society having their humanity recognised, and the group that was singled out by the shadow attorney were criminals. They were just now singled out by the attorney as a group within society who really do not have rights—in other words, they do not have human rights, do not deserve to have their humanity recognised and protected.

That was the essential thrust of the remarks in opposition to the Human Rights Commission and the continuing opposition to the Human Rights Act and the role and function of the Human Rights Commissioner: there are people within our community, within our society, who are unworthy of having their humanity protected and recognised; they should not have the same rights to insist that their human rights be recognised and protected. That, of course, is at the heart of the continuing campaign by the Liberal Party against the Human Rights Act, against the bill of rights.

The shadow attorney suggested in the debate on this bill that the Human Rights Act has not been shown to have had any effect or any utility. Given the single debate around our response as the community of Canberra, not just as Australians, in relation to terrorism and the legislative response to terrorism, to suggest that a recognition or understanding or debate connected to human rights and an understanding of the implications of human rights has not been enhanced, that the debate has not been facilitated and that the quality of debate has not benefited from the fact that here within the ACT we have a legislated Human Rights Act is a classic head-in-the-sand denial of reality.

If anything, I think the events of the last four or five months have made the case clearly for a national bill of rights, not just proved the utility of the ACT’s Human Rights Act. We see now around Australia almost a groundswell of acknowledgment that the ACT, in legislating a bill of rights, the Human Rights Act, in the ACT, has shown the way, to the extent that Victoria has now adopted the ACT model and indicated it will now be legislating a human rights act in the same terms as the ACT’s Human Rights Act. So the proof of the pudding is in the eating: it has now been adopted.

The ACT Human Rights Act has now been adopted by Victoria. I know there are a couple of other jurisdictions that have begun the process of consultation within their communities, and of course I hope that our national parliament and our national parties will do so. I acknowledge that the Greens and the Democrats are very, very open even now in their support for a national bill of rights, and I await the day that my party nationally joins them in that endeavour, and of course that liberal parties around Australia adopt the attitude that conservative parties in other places around the world have done in relation to human rights acts and bills of rights.

The Conservative Party in the UK were a major and main supporter of the UK Human Rights Act. The Bill of Rights in the United States of America, of course, is tattooed onto the chests of most members of the Republican Party. The Republicans in the US have no difficulty tattooing the US Bill of Rights across their chests. They have aspects of some of the amendments—

Mr Seselja: The right to bear arms.

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