Page 1414 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 9 May 2006

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In relation to your amendments, Mr Corbell, I see what you are aiming at. There does not seem to be a problem with the intent there. We will see how they pan out in practice but on face value—and I have only had a chance to look at them over the last couple of hours, because they were circulated fairly late in the piece—they do not seem to be particularly problematic but follow on from a sensible comment in the report.

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (5.53): I rise to take issue with the point made by the Chief Minister about the priority of the right to a fair trial being the only and paramount right. Let us be clear about this. The right to a fair trial is a very, very senior right in the list of rights that any society has. But I put it to you, Chief Minister, that the right to a fair trial, while it is a paramount right, still runs second to the right to have one’s life protected. The right to have one’s life protected is the paramount right of an individual, and it is the duty of all governments to ensure that their constituencies, those that they govern for, have their collective right to be protected upheld. That is what this particular debate is all about.

We see here again a chief minister who is blind-sided by this focus on those who might be jailed. That is where the focus is. We have seen that with the Greens as well. They are blind-sided by the individual rights of those who might be arrested, detained or jailed. We never hear—there is a thundering silence on the question—about the right of the broader community to be protected. I have not heard that at all here today. Let us be reminded that the threat of terrorism leaves no second chance in the protection of innocent life. You could take risks with other people who may be hell-bent on committing a crime within the range of domestic crimes. You leave no chance for those whom the authorities may deem to be a risk of carrying out a terrorist act. You cannot get it wrong.

That leads me to the next point, a point raised by Dr Foskey earlier. There will always be a risk of innocent people being jailed under these sorts of laws. Regrettable as that is, it is going to happen. And it has happened. It is happening all over the world. But that is the higher risk that authorities take when they seek to protect their communities against a terrorist threat. Do not forget that those who would carry out a terrorist crime and seek to undertake mass murder use pretty substantial weapons. Mistakes will be made. Dr Foskey, authorities will make mistakes and innocent people will be jailed or will be detained.

I do not think that the legislation that the government is seeking to put forward here today, or even that which Mr Stefaniak is seeking to amend, is going to deny the rights of people who may be innocently and wrongfully detained, jailed or interrogated. Let us put things back in balance and let us not be overwhelmed by the emotional issues and rush to the individual rights of those who might be jailed as an issue and a question which should override every other sensible determination. Governments have a first duty to protect their communities and to protect the right of those communities to live. And that should be the determining factor in the way that this legislation is put together.

Amendments agreed to.

Clause 12, as amended, agreed to.

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