Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (1 May) . . Page.. 1270..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
It contributed to the 15 minutes worth of angst I had before mounting the case, but complexity and costs are no excuse for making a mistake and providing bad law.
I respect Mr Hird's right, indeed, his duty, to put in a dissenting report if he feels that he cannot agree with the committee's conclusions. However, I think it is also my right and my duty to gently tell him where I think he is slightly off the centre of the mark. On the issue of negligence, he said the committee had no suggestions for rewording the bill. I might suggest to you, Mr Speaker, that that is because none of us has legal training. The Justice and Community Safety Committee, as opposed to the scrutiny of bills committee, does not have a lawyer at our disposal. What we are saying is that if we, as lay people, do not understand the bill and we are not convinced, then the people affected by the legislation will be in the same position, and perhaps somebody with qualifications could clean it up. Therein lies a suggestion.
Mr Hird also suggested that the committee did not take the time to consider the nature of damages to reputation and things like that. Let me assure the member opposite that time was taken to consider that aspect. When we talk about damages, we know that there is a big action on the part of the government to get rid of pain and suffering as a subject of compensation, and the victims of crime compensation scheme is the best example of that.
When you talk about besmirching somebody's name, pain and suffering is the only thing that remains. Then, when you talk about quantifying a compensation claim, you have to talk about damage to reputation where the reputation is directly related to employment prospects, to obtaining a job. If, for example, a person is a lobbyist, their whole livelihood is at risk. People like ourselves, if we get besmirched well and truly, will miss out on preselection or election at the ballot box. So it can have a devastating effect on the economic career of not only the person involved but also the family to which they are attached.
So, Mr Speaker, I support the committee's recommendations. I urge the government to go back and draft this bill again. The one thing that the four members of the committee were agreed on was that there was a need for change and that there was a need for a national approach. We just disagreed on the way the bill was presented, and you see that report before you.
Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak ) adjourned to the next sitting.
Finance and Public Administration-Standing Committee
Finance Committee Report No 11
MR QUINLAN (10.57): I present, pursuant to order, the following report:
Finance and Public Administration-Standing Committee (incorporating the Public Accounts Committee)-Finance Committee Report No 11-Appropriation Bill 2000-2001 (No 2), dated 27 April 2001, including a dissenting report, together with a copy of the extracts of minutes of proceedings.
That the report be noted.