Late this afternoon the Chief Minister put out a media release (below) saying that the ACT was going to pass on the Government’s draconian terror laws.
Bill Stefaniak has responded by doing the seemingly impossible, lowering the tone of of public discourse in the ACT by quoting Kylie Mole in this media release.
I for one am glad to be dealt out of the game Bill. Your position on this issue will be remembered when the next election rolls around.
The text of the Chief Minister’s media release is as follows:
ACT UNABLE TO AGREE TO TERROR BILL
The ACT would move as swiftly as practicable to introduce the anti-terrorism measures it had agreed to
at last month’s special heads-of-government meeting but Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said he had not
been able to put his signature to the Commonwealth Bill introduced into Federal Parliament this
“While I acknowledge the very significant concessions made by the Federal Government in recent days
in relation to the preventative detention regime and control orders, I have been unable to satisfy myself,
in the scant few hours the Prime Minister has allowed me to scrutinise the final draft, that the Bill meets
the promises made by the Prime Minister at the Council of Australian Governments meeting,” he said.
“My office received a final draft of the Bill this morning, after I had left Canberra to attend to interstate
ministerial commitments. 1 have had no opportunity to consider the substance of the most recent
amendments and no opportunity to secure the kind of advice 1 would require in order to be comfortable
about the final shape of the legislation, Moreover, I have still received no response whatsoever from
the Commonwealth in relation to a comprehensive list of my outstanding concerns about the detail of
the Bill, which was sent to the Prime Minister on November I, Many of these concerns, including the
proposed sedition laws and the offences of advocacy, have not been the subject of recent amendment.
“A number of areas of concern remain. For instance, there is a body of expert opinion that the Bill as it
stands could be unconstitutional and could fall at the first legal challenge. I believe it would not be
appropriate to agree to the laws when the only legal opinions 1 have seen express grave concern in
relation to constitutionality. It is surely vital that we take the time to ensure that these laws do not fail,
exposing the community to a period in which it might endure less protection and security than it
currently enjoys. 1 am convinced that, given time, the State and Territory Solicitors General could have
provided recommendations that would have significantly reduced the vulnerability of the Bill to
challenge. I have had no assurance that such amendments have been incorporated into the Bill.
“Nor have I yet had an opportunity to be satisfied that the provisions of the Bill are truly proportionate or
that they satisfy the Prime Minister’s promise of September 27 that the laws would comply with
Australia’s obligations under international human-rights law.
“The Prime Minister, due to his determination to ram through this legislation this afternoon, has left me
with no alternative but to reject the Anti-Terrorism Bill as it stands, This is a disappointing conclusion to
a process that was entered into by the ACT with good will and with a conviction on my part that tough
new laws were necessary.”
Mr Stanhope said that he would move as soon as possible to fulfil the promises he made at COAG to
legislate for a territory-based preventative detention scheme and other changes to police powers. “I will
keep the promises the Prime Minister made,” he said.