Page 5442 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 16 November 2010

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Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act

MS PORTER: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, you are on the record as advocating for a review of the self-government act. Could you inform the Assembly why such a review is important for genuine democracy and true self-government in the ACT?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Porter for the question. It is an important question. Indeed, I think questions going to the extent of democratic rights and the strength of our democracy are fundamentally important. Indeed, at the end of the day, there is probably no more important issue for an Assembly or a parliament to address or deal with or be concerned about than the nature of its democracy, the strength of its democracy and the strength of its institutions. I think all members of this place, most particularly, would be acutely sensitive to deficiencies that we as an Assembly and as a community suffer—

Mr Hanson: You couldn’t even be bothered to turn up for the last two sitting weeks, Jon. How can it be the most important thing you’re worried about?

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, thank you.

MR STANHOPE: in relation to our constitution, in relation to the self-government act. These are most pertinently relevant as a result of two bills that have been introduced into the federal parliament by the leader of the Greens federally, Senator Bob Brown. The first of those debates focuses most particularly—

Mr Hanson: Why didn’t you send me a postcard?

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, you are now warned for interjecting.

MR STANHOPE: on the removal of legislation introduced in the mid-90s in relation to proscribing the capacity of the territories—the three self-governing territories, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and Norfolk Island—to legislate in the area of euthanasia, an area that is recognised as being, and indeed is, within the constitutional domain of the states and the territories. It is a domain that was constricted through that legislative intervention in relation to the territory. That debate has commenced. I am advised that the debate on this will continue this Thursday in the Senate.

The issue that is being debated, of course, should not be euthanasia. I fear that it will be. The issue is, as Senator Brown has said, and as I have reiterated, as have my colleagues, about the rights of the people of Canberra. It is fundamental. There is nothing more fundamental than the democratic right of a people. It is fundamental to the order, peace and good government which prevails within Australia and in all of the states and territories, but which, within the territories, is constrained by inappropriate intervention by the commonwealth post self-government in our right or capacity to legislate as we see fit.

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