Page 395 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 4 March 2008

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that tribunal to detain someone without a warrant or without charge. That legislation was accompanied by a human rights compatibility statement. We know that human rights compatibility statements are not worth the paper that they are written on. It is incumbent upon the government actually to get this legislation right. Clearly its public servants do not understand it as it is. The act will be significantly expanding its reach without actually working at the moment.

We believe that it would be prudent to wait for a review next year to figure out whether or not it is working in practice—clearly there are instances where it is not—before we as a community then make a decision as to whether to expand the Human Rights Act or whether to limit it in some way; whether to amend it or to repeal it. These options should be looked at. The government has gone ahead and significantly expanded the legislation—it will be if this legislation passes—without actually getting it right.

We have seen Minister Gallagher talk about human rights in Quamby and in the new youth detention facility. She has said words to the effect of “you cannot have all your human rights at once”. It will be virtually impossible to comply with some of those sections of the Human Rights Act in the new youth detention facility, and presumably also in the Alexander Maconochie Centre, because some of them are simply difficult from a management perspective. It is not that prison officers want to deny people their human rights. In fact, by strictly following the letter of the Human Rights Act there will be adverse outcomes for individuals as a result of separation which should not be happening.

There are significant issues still to be resolved. The Human Rights Act still has question marks on its current application. We have seen problems with the believability of the human rights compatibility statements. In those circumstances we believe that it is reasonable actually to pause, have a comprehensive review next year, make sure that it is working currently and then look at what expansion, if any, should occur to the legislation. We believe that is a sensible course and that that all members should support it. We oppose the clause.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (12.22): It is a very disappointing position from those opposite, Mr Speaker. Previously those opposite have sought to argue that the introduction of the Human Rights Act would lead to a flood of litigation and would lead to a tearing down of the fundamental principles on which the common law operates and case law operates. It just has not happened.

I note this subtle change from the new Liberal Party. Is it the old Liberal Party or is it the new Liberal Party? The new leader seeks to assert that they are in favour of human rights—indeed, that they are even in favour of the existing Human Rights Act, but they do not think there should be any further changes to the act at this time. That is, of course, in marked contrast to their previous position. That was that they just opposed the legislation outright.

Really, what we hear from those opposite is an attempt retrospectively, I guess, to try and adjust their position on human rights here in the ACT. But we have not heard

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