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Tuesday, 23 August 1983
Page: 116

Question No. 299


Mr Ruddock asked the Minister for Territories and Local Government, upon notice , on 26 May 1983:

(1) Has the Australian Law Reform Commission been given a reference for the consideration of a new public assemblies ordinance for the Australian Capital Territory; if so, (a) when, (b) what are the terms of reference; if not, when does he anticipate being in a position to make a reference.

(2) Has his Department prepared a paper entitled 'Consequences of Repeal of the Public Assemblies Ordinance'; if so, (a) will he make that paper publicly available and (b) can he indicate whether the paper suggests that the repeal of the Public Assemblies Ordinance could be viewed as a retrograde step, in conflict with the Government's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


Mr Uren —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Only the Attorney-General may initiate references to the Australian Law Reform Commission. I have not requested the Attorney-General to refer the matter of appropriate public assemblies legislation for the Australian Capital Territory to the Commission.

(2) A paper entitled 'Consequences of Repeal of the Public Assemblies Ordinance 1982' was prepared by my Department and I have made a copy available to the honourable member.

As I stated at the time the Public Assemblies Ordinance 1982 was repealed, there were aspects of that Ordinance which I believe constitute a serious infringement of civil liberties. I gave a commitment at the time that I would introduce new public assemblies legislation for the Australian Capital Territory which would guarantee the right of peaceful assembly in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and I reaffirm that commitment.