CONTROVERSIAL CHIEF Minister for ACT, Jon Stanhope, was last week awarded the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) 2006 Civil Justice Award for his opposition to the Federal Government’s anti-terror laws.
Stanhope was recognised for his decision to release the draft anti-terrorism legislation to the public, making it available on his website and attracting heavy criticism from the Government as a result.
“No one wants to be the odd one out but to make a difference in society, sometimes we need to stand up and make difficult decisions,” he said.
“At a time when the global threat of terror is seeing governments impinge on our civil liberties, it is more important than ever to take a stand for the rights of individuals.”
Recognising that this is the first time the award has been presented to a politician, ALA national president Simon Morrison said the undermining of individual rights in the name of national security was the defining legal development of this year.
“Time and time again, [Stanhope] has been a lone voice of power in pursuit of good. He is a true representative of the people, who is not swayed by big business. [Stanhope] is one man who is working to make Australia a more just society,” Morrison said.
Stanhope was also cited by ALA for his efforts in campaigning for a fair trial for Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks, which included nominating his father Terry for Father of the Year in 2006.
Past winners include asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton, Queensland children’s rights campaigner Hetty Jonston, former intelligence analyst Andrew Wilkie, and lawyer Jennifer Beck, responsible for exposing unsafe practices at a West Australian hospital.
The national board of the ALA, the leading advocate for rights of individual litigants in the justice system, voted for Stanhope following nominations from its members.