Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 20 September 2018) . . Page.. 3950 ..
Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety, Minister for Government Services and Procurement, Minister for Urban Renewal) (4.01): Madam Assistant Speaker, as you would be well aware, next year will mark the 30-year anniversary of self-government in the ACT. It has now been almost three decades since the federal government granted Canberrans a democratic voice in the administration and lawmaking of our own territory.
However, Canberrans have never had the full democratic rights that Australians who live in the states enjoy. The democratic voice of each Canberran can be, and often is, shouted down by the federal parliament. Over the course of the past 29 years Canberrans have used their democratic voice to express themselves as among the most progressive, the most forward-thinking and the boldest of jurisdictions in the country.
In this place we represent an engaged and passionate community. It is time for our community, through its democratically-elected lawmakers, to be granted the same legislative rights as are enjoyed in other jurisdictions. It is time that the voice of territory residents was heard.
In 2013 Canberrans used their voice to become the first jurisdiction in Australia to legislate for marriage equality. The Abbott government shouted us down. Canberrans have used their voice to repeatedly support upgrading our public transport system to include stage 2 of light rail, which will extend the network to Woden. But the Liberals on the hill have been trying to frustrate the government’s agenda, an agenda that was overwhelmingly supported by Canberrans at the 2016 election. Because it is politically expedient to do so, the federal government is trying to shout Canberrans down yet again.
More recently, as Ms Le Couteur mentioned, Canberrans supported an Australian-first pill testing trial at the Groovin the Moo music festival. But when we tried to build on this success at the upcoming Spilt Milk festival, the federal government again shouted Canberrans down.
In the case of voluntary assisted dying, the Liberal government, including Senator Seselja, will not even let us raise our voice to ask the question. Senators had the opportunity recently to return to residents of the ACT and the Northern Territory their right to determine their own legislation on assisted dying.
The ACT government is strongly of the view that, regardless of one’s views on voluntary assisted dying, Canberrans should be afforded equality under the law to legislate on this issue if the community desires. Together with our Northern Territory colleagues, we impressed upon our senators the importance of passing this legislation. In a show of the territories’ convictions, we ran a joint campaign designed to directly communicate with our federal politicians to vote in support of the Restoring Territory Rights Bill. It was with deep regret and disappointment that we saw the Senate reject this bill.
There is no doubt that our gross under-representation in the Senate has played some part in this result. The territories’ allotment of two representatives each in the Senate,