Page 1484 - Week 05 - Thursday, 7 May 2015

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These questions were not able to be answered by the scrutiny of bills committee. The committee also noted:

There is however a question whether the Explanatory Statement understates the potential legal effect of proposed subsection 27(2).

There are also questions of law in the explanatory statement that do not seem to be complete or even correct. For example, the committee noted:

It is difficult to follow this argument, perhaps because there may be words omitted from the first sentence. But the general point seems incorrect. The Commonwealth Parliament does not have legislative power over “environment and resources”, and much less so concerning “property rights”.

The committee also raised issues of certainty. For example:

An “interpretational right” is however significant, and what section 40B adds to the effect of HRA section 30 is not clear.


Just what are “material and economic relationships” with land, waters and other resources will of course be a matter for debate and clarification.

Now is the time to have that debate and that clarification before we as an Assembly agree to this legislation. It is impossible and would be irresponsible to ignore the comments made by the scrutiny of bills committee.

I note the Attorney-General’s response to these issues, but this response was provided only yesterday and it does not seem to address the issues in full. We should give very careful consideration to the issues raised by this Assembly’s scrutiny committee, which is a bipartisan committee, before we pass this law. We can do something proactive to address it. We do not want issues of this sort being resolved subsequently in the Supreme Court or in other courts of the territory or Australia.

Even though we accept, endorse and support the intent of the clauses in this bill, as individuals and legislators we must look at the actual terms and the potential ramifications, particularly those issues that have been raised by the scrutiny of bills committee. Before we as an Assembly agree to pass the bill in detail we want to refer those specific concerns to an Assembly committee that can explore them and recommend any modifications that may or may not be required. That is the point. It is about clarification. No amendments may be required to this bill, but these issues and questions that have been raised by the scrutiny of bills committee need to be addressed.

I say again that we support the bill in principle, but let us make sure it reflects our shared commitment to equality for all and a workable, sound law that will serve all the people of the ACT. We support this bill in principle but recommend a committee review prior to debate at the detail stage.

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