Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 3 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 843..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
amendment should be made to the penalty for breach of a restraining order under the Magistrates Court Act. I gave an undertaking to the Assembly that I would prepare such an amendment, and clause 5 gives effect to this undertaking. Clause 5 amends section 206L of the Act to increase the maximum term of imprisonment that may be imposed for breach of a restraining order to two years for a first offence and five years for a subsequent offence.
Mr Speaker, this package certainly takes the protection available to victims of domestic violence in the ACT one further, rather greater step. It provides what I think is fairly described as the most extensive package of protection for victims of domestic violence in Australia. I hope that, as we examine the balance between the civil liberties of those accused of offences of domestic violence and the interests of those who are alleged to be their victims, we will recognise that some further shift needs to occur in favour of those who are victims. I therefore commend this and the other Bills to the Assembly and seek the support of the Assembly for these important measures.
Debate (on motion by Mr Wood) adjourned.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (11.01): Mr Speaker, I present the Mediation Bill 1997, together with its explanatory memorandum.
Title read by Clerk.
MR HUMPHRIES: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
Members will recall that I tabled an exposure draft of the Mediation Bill on 12 December last year. In tabling the exposure draft I indicated that copies of the exposure draft would be made available for public comment, and that it was my intention to introduce the Bill formally into the Assembly in the 1997 autumn sittings.
Government and non-government agencies, as well as individual members of the legal profession, submitted substantive and very helpful comments on the exposure draft Bill. I want to express my thanks for their cooperation in this very important matter of promoting an alternative and more user-friendly mode of access to justice in our community. In the light of comments received, a number of important changes have been made to the exposure draft.
Members may recall that the exposure draft provided for the Minister to approve a person or a class of persons as mediators. The Bill which I table today changes that in two ways. Firstly, it provides that those mediators who are at present accredited by a prescribed agency will be recognised as approved mediators under the Act. Secondly, once the Act comes into operation, a person seeking approval as a mediator must have been assessed by a prescribed agency as competent according to the ACT Competency Standards for Mediators.