Page 4629 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 19 October 2011

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Commonwealth territories legislation—proposed amendments

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (11.45): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) acknowledges the importance and timeliness of the debate now taking place in the Australian Parliament in relation to the Territories Self-Government Legislation Amendment (Disallowance and Amendment of Laws) Bill;

(2) calls on coalition and all remaining crossbench MPs to vote to pass the bill, thereby removing historic and unwarranted constraints upon the legislative powers of the elected ACT Parliament and according proper respect and deserved independence to the people of the ACT; and

(3) looks forward to a continued debate and dialogue between the ACT and Federal governments regarding other aspects of ACT self-government that warrant review and possible amendment.

This is an exciting time for the parliament and the people of the Australian Capital Territory. The bill being debated by our fellow Australians not far from here in the nation’s parliament is important symbolically and also practically. If passed, it will mark something significant in the maturing of our own legislature here in the ACT. It also marks a deepening understanding by men and women elected by other Australian communities of what genuine democracy and equality in citizenship actually require of us.

It does not require that I, as an MLA in this parliament, agree or approve of everything legislated by, say, the Western Australian parliament or the New South Wales parliament, or even our national parliament. It does not require that individuals elected to any of these parliaments must necessarily agree with or approve of everything decided in this place on behalf of this community. All it requires is that we respect the rights of each legislature to pass laws, under the powers available to them, on matters that concern them, without undue interference by anyone unconnected with the business.

At its core, that is what the bill being debated federally is all about: respect. Respect for the right of Canberra residents to have the same democratic rights as those across the border in Queanbeyan. Respect for the right of the men and women they elect to their parliament to have the same power to legislate as the men and women elected to the parliaments of the states.

What is being sought is nothing extraordinary, no special treatment, just a simple acknowledgment that we Canberrans are every bit as capable as other Australians of making decisions about the way we should lead our lives, run our city and conduct our civic business.

It is a pity that until now the Liberals in this Assembly have squibbed on the chance to say categorically whether they do or do not agree with this proposition. Does

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