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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 10 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 3171..

MRS CARNELL (continuing):

The explanatory memorandum reported that two waivers totalling $3,342 were provided in 1996-97. A further waiver of $975 occurred late in the financial year, bringing the total amount waived for domestic relationship purposes in the 1996-97 financial year to $4,317. I provide a corrigendum to the explanatory memorandum to take account of this change.

In conclusion, the measures contained in this Bill further demonstrate the Government's commitment to assist ACT businesses and to implement the principles of the Domestic Relationships Act 1994 and the Discrimination Act 1991. The ACT is leading Australia in these areas. I am very proud of that, and I know some other members of the Assembly are too.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.


Debate resumed from 4 September 1997, on motion by Mr Humphries:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR WOOD (5.34): Mr Speaker, the Opposition will be supporting this very sensible legislation. In his introductory speech, the Minister indicated the importance of developing alternative means of providing justice, to overcome, if possible, the escalating cost of justice. I think the Minister should also attend to other means of doing that. For many in the community, justice is difficult to obtain because of the cost of appearing in court. Certainly, governments must play their part and, if possible, provide alternatives such as this.

The Bill has been widely canvassed. It has been out and about and has received generally good support from the community. It provides for the registration and the scrutiny of mediators - a very necessary step, given the importance of this measure. It also allows for confidentiality of proceedings. People appearing in mediation sessions need to be assured that nothing that they say in those sessions, nothing that is admitted, can subsequently be used as evidence in a court of law. It is an essential aspect of the whole process. The Bill also provides for immunity from civil action for mediators - assuming, of course, that they act in good faith. These measures, I believe, will ensure a high calibre of mediator. I think they will develop over time a system that is respected by those who come before it.

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