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Rule of Law Damaged by Retrospective Change

Rule of Law Damaged by Retrospective Change

Thursday, September 20 2001
Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Commerce

ACT Commerce Spokesman Stephen Franks said it was outrageous that the Government should want to take Parliament into extraordinary urgency to reverse a Court of Appeal decision. The Commerce Amendment Act passed in May has been found to be defective.

"Respect for the rule of law requires at the very least an obvious and considered attempt to work through the alternatives before overturning a Court decision retrospectively Mr Franks said.

"The Government has now said it will force Parliament into extraordinary urgency - the first time this Government has done so. That means that Parliament will sit tonight ' after ACT refused it leave to tack the legislation on to another Bill.

"Members have yet to even see what is proposed.

"Haste in this matter now has only one purpose ' to curtail the period of political embarrassment for the Government. There is and will be no continuing alarm among businesses, now that they know that there is majority support for ensuring in good time that the previous law will govern the transactions affected. Parliament can deal with this in good order, deciding whether to fix the problem in a principled manner.

"We opposed the Government's hasty quick-fix because we care about constitutional principles.

"The Government has been forced to take this embarrassing course of action because it made a foolish change to copy Australian law in May this year. ACT and most reputable experts warned against it.

"ACT would support an urgent and complete repair that would apply equally to everyone, by simply repealing the ill-advised change. That would restore the law we had until May, which barred mergers that could allow abuse of a dominant position.

"We have here a Government crammed with business infants. With no practical experience they suspect the good advice they get, and create bad law. It should be of concern to everyone that the Government refuses to listen to reason and is apparently prepared to stoop to constitutionally offensive measures, embarrassing the Court, for political damage limitation," Stephen Franks said.

For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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