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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 7 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 1709..


MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

claim damages if the claim had been initiated prior to death. That is fair enough. Other provisions will enable an expert, other than an agreed or appointed expert, who has provided a health service for a claimant to give expert medial evidence in the proceeding. Again, that is sensible. Obviously that person would know better than anyone else the health of the claimant.

The provisions will also enable rebuttal of contributory negligence in cases where a person not wearing a seatbelt at the time of a motor vehicle accident was incapable of fastening the seatbelt without assistance. In other words, some person who was disabled could not fasten the seatbelt and obviously could not have contributed to the accident, the accident being no fault of their own. Also, consistent with a national initiative, the provisions set up a scheme that limits the liability of members of trade or professional associations, if the practitioner holds an occupational liability insurance policy that provides at least a minimum of cover set by the scheme. Provisions under the Discrimination Act will allow a discrimination tribunal to refuse to hear, or further hear, a complaint where the applicant has not abided by reasonable tribunal directions, such as attending mediation. Again, that is fair enough.

There are amendments to the Domestic Violence Agencies Act—again non-contentious—to strengthen the skills base of the Domestic Violence Prevention Council, to extend the term of employment of counsellors from two years to three years and to make other minor technical amendments such as the ability for the

Attorney-General to get rid of people from it who have criminal records, which I think in the circumstances seems highly desirable. That is, criminal records in relation to indictable offences.

Also, a non-contentious amendment to the Judicial Commissions Act makes proceedings before a commission a proceeding of public concern for the Civil Law (Wrongs) Act and which enables the defence of fair report of proceedings. There are some non-contentious amendments to the Powers of Attorney Act as well as a couple of amendments to the Utilities Act to enable the Essential Services Consumer Council to direct a utility to reduce a charge where there is a complaint that a capital contribution charge imposed by the utility is excessive. The amendment limits the threshold to amounts of up to $10,000. That is deliberately to bring it in line with the small claims jurisdiction. Again that seems quite logical.

So the bill is basically an efficient method of tidying up legislation that requires clarification, correction or consequential amendment. These are relatively minor amendments. Whilst a few do several specific things which are a bit more than we often see in these bills, they are non-contentious. The opposition will be supporting the bill and also a couple of government amendments which again are very minor, fixing up a few words.

To show how people miss these things, I was rather amazed that the standard penalty unit was not described where it should have been, in section 441 of the Crimes Act. The standard penalty unit equals $100. I thought that would have been fairly basic, but I suppose that shows the need for bills like this, to pick up those minor amendments that somehow might get lost in the process. I commend Parliamentary Counsel for its work in relation to this bill, the 16th in the series, and no doubt look forward to No 17 in the not too distant future.


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