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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 10 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 3083..

Ayes 8

Noes 5

Mr Berry

Mr Gentleman

Mrs Burke

Mr Stefaniak

Mr Corbell

Ms MacDonald

Mr Pratt

Dr Foskey

Ms Porter

Mr Seselja

Ms Gallagher

Mr Stanhope

Mr Smyth

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Human Rights Commission Legislation Amendment Bill 2005

Debate resumed from 7 April 2005 on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.14): I thought this bill was cognate to the Human Rights Commission Bill. My remarks in principle to the Human Rights Commission Bill apply equally to the Human Rights Commission Legislation Amendment Bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail Stage

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.15): I move the amendment circulated in my name [see schedule 3 at page 3109].

This bill is consequential on the Human Rights Commission Bill. One of the problems in relation to these bills and to other bills that we will be debating shortly is the fact that the Ombudsman, while still playing a significant role, is being written out of settled areas. That is a matter of concern for a number of medical groups to whom Mr Smyth and I have spoken. We wanted to ensure that the Ombudsman was still able to deal with any issues sent to him as a result of this legislation. While the Ombudsman still plays a substantial role, in some respects that role has been weakened. We do not believe there is any need for that.

Obviously we are sympathetic to the views expressed by medical groups relating to the Ombudsman's weakened role. The Scrutiny of Bills Committee, in its report 14, dated 15 August, made a number of comments about the Ombudsman that I think are applicable here. My colleague Mr Seselja will mention some specific issues relating to this bill and to a bill on which we are yet to vote. However, there are some good general comments on page 26 of the Ombudsman Act that I think are applicable to my amendment.

Section 5 (1) (a) of the Ombudsman Act confers on the Ombudsman a broad power to investigate action that relates to a matter of administration and to deal with the complaint in a flexible and informal way including-and this is noted in the act-a broad discretion to decline to investigate. That informality is justified in part by reference to the

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