Page 68 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 9 February 2016
The government has considered the eight recommendations and agrees to one. It notes six and disagrees with one. The government notes recommendation 1 of the report, which was that the Assembly vote in support of clauses 4, 6, 7 and 9 of the Human Rights Amendment Bill.
As stated in the report, the view of the committee was that the extensions to rights proposed in the bill—Indigenous rights, the right to education and children’s rights—were measures which would extend rights in useful ways. The committee chair noted that, on the basis of representations made to the committee and as a result of its deliberations, the committee recommended that all of the clauses in the bill be supported by the Assembly. Given that the committee has given the bill its endorsement in this matter, the government intends to bring forward the Human Rights Amendment Bill 2015 for debate in the coming weeks and hopes that these important amendments will now receive unanimous support.
In relation to the recommendation that all proposers of bills to be considered by the Assembly provide full, well-reasoned and substantiated explanatory statements for bills to support the deliberations of the Assembly, the government agrees. The government acknowledges the important role of explanatory statements in guiding the Assembly and the public through the application and interpretation of complex human rights concepts as they arise in legislation. The government intends to table a revised explanatory statement to clarify some clause explanations dealing with the issue of Torres Strait Islander peoples’ connection to the ACT and the status of native title in the ACT.
The government does not agree with recommendation 3 of the committee, which is that advice obtained by the government in relation to the drafting of the bill or a summary of that advice be tabled in the Assembly. The government does not intend to waive its client-legal privilege by releasing legal advice obtained in relation to an area of law which has not yet been finally settled. As a matter of course, legal advice from the Government Solicitor’s Office on relevant legal questions that supports policy development is accurately reflected in documentation supporting legislation implementing that policy. As noted above, the government intends to table a revised explanatory statement to clarify some clause explanations dealing with the issue of Torres Strait Islander peoples’ connection to the ACT and the status of native title in the ACT.
The government notes the committee recommendation that the ACT government investigate and consider legislation similar to the Victorian Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 for the ACT. The government notes this recommendation because any work on facilitating out-of-court settlements of native title should look both at the model adopted in Victoria but also beyond to the approaches taken in other Australian jurisdictions. Any such approach should acknowledge the unique characteristics of the ACT as both a relatively recently established territory but also as a meeting place and home to many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across Australia.