Page 2020 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 3 June 2015

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parliamentary practice and the rule of law. All of these things should be acknowledged as significant. We should affirm them in this place because of the importance that they play in ensuring the freedoms of the people of the ACT and the people of the world.

As I said before, the fact that a king conceded that he was no longer above the law was a truly revolutionary idea. This parliament is not above the law. No parliamentarian or chief minister or prime minister or president is above the law. What we need to remember is that both the challenges and the benefits of this freedom have never been more evident than they are in a place like this Assembly today.

We are the inheritors and the beneficiaries of a long legacy. We are also its trustees. It is incumbent upon us that we affirm the importance of the rule of law to the people of the Australian Capital Territory and in doing so mark this significant anniversary and mark it in a way which is appropriate to legislators. I commend the motion to the Assembly.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Capital Metro) (6.25): I thank Mrs Dunne for bringing forward this important motion today. It is still important and relevant that we as an elected legislature mark the 800th anniversary of the signing of the great charter, the Magna Carta, in the Assembly this evening. The Magna Carta is described as the most famous and important document in the history of the English speaking world. It is widely viewed as one of the most important legal documents in the history of democracy.

The original document, handwritten in medieval Latin on untanned animal skin, was written in the 13th century by a group of English barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. On 15 June 1215, when confronted by these barons, the king consented to their demands and affixed his seal to the Magna Carta in order to avoid civil war. Although that agreement was later nullified, it was, as Mrs Dunne has indicated, reissued several times.

As a statute of the realm from 1297, the Magna Carta officially became part of British law to be referred to, interpreted and quoted in the courts and in the parliaments of Britain and countries that have adopted British law, including Australia. Echoes of Magna Carta can also be found within the American constitution and its influence can be seen in modern documents, such as the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Here in Australia, the ACT along with Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales have legislated to take in selected imperial legislation, including chapter 29 of the Magna Carta. In the ACT the legislation adopting chapter 29 can be found on the ACT’s legislation register. In Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory most chapters are in force. At its essence, Magna Carta acknowledges that no-one in society is above the law: not the king or his subjects, not the government or the governed. As an affirmation that authorities should be subject to law arising from the community itself, it is a foundational stone of constitutional and parliamentary government.

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