Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 30 November 2017) . . Page.. 5403 ..
With respect to Mr Coe’s amendment, I certainly share his concerns that a two-year committee is not really a select committee. It sounds more like a standing committee. It does not seem appropriate timing to me.
MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism and Major Events) (12.30): I will speak to the amendments, Madam Speaker. The government will not be supporting either of Mr Coe’s amendments. In relation to the time frame for the committee, I find it ironic that both speakers mentioned and referenced the Victorian scheme. Its establishment is 18 months so it will not be fully operational until 2019.
That was the rationale for the longer time period. However, there are contained within the terms of reference for the select committee a range of other matters that it can consider in addition to the Victorian scheme. There will also be, over the course of the next 12 to 18 months, other states that will bring forward legislation in this area.
Victoria has obviously become the first Australian state to pass such laws, noting of course that the Northern Territory did in the 1990s. But, as I referenced in my remarks, the New South Wales upper house was within one vote—one vote—of passing a similar piece of legislation. I am aware that in other state parliaments around the country other bills being prepared now in the context of following the outcomes in Victoria.
This is a very significant issue. I have no doubt that if we do not establish a process now, at some point in the future we will be told by those who wish to oppose the actual policy substance here that we need a longer period of time to consider the issues. There are many issues. There are many issues contained within the terms of reference for the select committee. There is, of course, the opportunity under paragraph 1(f) for the committee to consider other relevant matters that Ms Le Couteur referred to, in addition to the particular focus in paragraph 1(a) on palliative care.
I believe this is entirely appropriate in respect of one of the most significant issues that people in this country want to engage on now, noting that there is also, as has been foreshadowed, a bill before the Senate to remove this restriction on the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. A bill has already been mooted to address this particular issue. Events here will move very quickly. People said that marriage equality would not happen in this country, and it will next week. Events will move quickly.
All of the obstacles—
Mr Coe: Except this committee, which is going to go very slowly.
MR BARR: The committee is going to examine this issue over an appropriate period of time. It can start now and it can also include the consideration and the practical effect of the Victorian legislation. That is the point here.