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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2432..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

remaining cases, the court has discretion to increase this amount according to the complexity of a matter or the behaviour of a party to the claim.

The legislation also provides for cost penalties if an appropriate offer of compromise is made but rejected. The chapter also discourages a lawyer from proceeding to have a matter listed for hearing unless the lawyer reasonably believes, on the basis of provable facts and a reasonably arguable view of the law, that the claim or defence has reasonable prospects of success. In the exceptional case of it being in the interests of justice for a person to challenge an established common law rule, the court may make an order to allow a claim to continue, notwithstanding this provision.

Chapter 11 makes a number of important changes to the law. It introduces the new methodology of neutral evaluation as a way of ensuring the early settlement of disputes. The introduction of this process will need to be supplemented by administrative reform in the courts-for example, by ensuring that registrars are appropriately qualified. It also institutes comprehensive reporting requirements for insurers undertaking business in the ACT. Henceforth, insurers can consider themselves under supervision and on probation.

Finally, the law recites the abolition of certain common law actions, rules and remedies. Some of these, including cattle trespass and the unity of spouses, have been abolished for some time. We have now added to these abolished actions the civil torts of seduction, enticement and harbouring. The people of the territory have shown great sense in seeking remedies for these torts in forums outside the court system; now it is time to abolish them. I am not quite sure of the last time the tort in relation to seduction was utilised, but I think it has seen its day-although there will be some within the community who perhaps think otherwise.

This bill is a sensible framework of reform for the future. Within its pages are many sensible adjustments to the law of civil wrongs, both old and new. The reforms that will flow from this and future amendments will have a positive impact. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Sitting suspended from 12.25 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Hospital waiting lists

MR HUMPHRIES: My question is to the Minister for Health, Mr Stanhope. Minister, I note that there has been a fair amount of discussion recently on the subject of waiting lists for elective surgery in our public hospitals. I also note that in your election platform last year you stated, "Waiting lists for elective surgery are unacceptably long." Can you tell the Assembly what the length of the waiting lists was at that point last year when you said that they were unacceptably long and what the length of the waiting lists was at 31 July this year?

MR STANHOPE: There were 4,054 people on the elective surgery waiting list at the end of July 2002. That was an increase on the number of people on the waiting list in July 2001, but it was less than the number of people on the waiting list in July 2000.


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