Page 1307 - Week 04 - Thursday, 10 April 2008

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We must provide a secure and safe environment for all people involved in the relay. If there is a cost to that, it is a cost that cannot now be avoided. As I said, we will be asking the commonwealth to meet the security costs for the relay.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question from Dr Foskey.

DR FOSKEY: Thank you. Given the ACT’s human rights framework, can the Chief Minister assure the Assembly that he will do everything he can to ensure that the AFP and protesters staging peaceful protests at the relay work cooperatively together?

MR STANHOPE: Dr Foskey, I have to say I have the highest regard and respect for ACT Policing and the Australian Federal Police. I have always said—and I do not just say it because I at this moment in time happen to be Chief Minister within the ACT—that I believe that the ACT and the people of Canberra are blessed in the police force that we have. There are issues from time to time. We all accept that. But we have an extremely good police force.

I believe the Australian Federal Police and ACT Policing, at one level one and the same organisation, are the best police force potentially in the world. I have the highest regard for ACT Policing leadership and officers within ACT Policing. I have absolutely no doubt that in their training and in their preparations for the relay and the security role which they will carry out during the relay they will be mindful of their responsibilities. They will be mindful of their responsibility in relation to demonstrators or people potentially breaking the law and the requirement to use only proportionate and reasonable force to observe and respect the human rights and the rights of all people, whether or not they be offenders, potential offenders, alleged offenders or, indeed, members of the Canberra community simply wishing to observe the relay or members of the Australian community participating in the relay.

I do not think it is particularly necessary, and I am not sure it is even appropriate for me in relation to the torch relay to say, “I will demand of ACT Policing that they observe the highest standards,” because I expect it of them, and I have no reason to believe that they will not observe those standards. But it would, of course, be my expectation, just as it would be the minister’s expectation that the police carry out their responsibility, their role, compliant with the law and compliant with the extent of their authority and the police powers which are vested in them.

Similarly, Dr Foskey—and I am glad you touched on it—I would also similarly expect of all people involved in the relay, whether they be participants, observers of the relay or demonstrators, that they similarly obey the law and respect the entire process. I think it has to be observed that it is one of the great ironies of protest or of demonstration that those that would use a protest or a demonstration to protest or demonstrate against violence or abuse would themselves use violence or abuse as a method of protesting against that to which they apparently or allegedly object. My hope, of course, is that those that come to demonstrate or protest against human rights abuses or violence or abuse of people within China of any sort will not themselves fall into the same behaviours to which they object.

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