Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 2 Hansard (18 March) . . Page.. 415..
MR WALL (Brindabella) (11.20): The opposition will be supporting the bill that is before us today. My colleagues and I are satisfied that the changes in the Corrections and Sentencing Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 are warranted and go some way to addressing the concerns of the community in this area.
As the minister has stated previously, the bill seeks to clarify a number of anomalies and is technical in some aspects, the main purpose being to make provision to ensure that any sentenced prisoner or parolee must now seek permission from the Justice and Community Safety Directorate's Director-General before applying to change their name. This will ensure that name changes do not occur for the purpose of evading supervision or detection or, more concerning, to continue to torment victims.
It does, however, warrant mentioning that once sentences have ceased being served there is nothing that prevents a released prisoner from going ahead with a name change as desired. I do also note that there is a provision for appeal whilst an individual is subject to a correctional order should they feel that their application to change their name has been rejected unfairly.
There was a case that was mentioned in the Canberra Times recently where the ACT Magistrates Court had to deal with one individual who had been charged under two different names, after changing his name in 2002 and then back again to his original name in 2009. This caused great confusion within the court system and added not just a burden of caseload but also additional costs which our court system can well do without.
The technical aspects of the bill relate to changes in definitions under mental health orders. This is again an anomaly that has caused many headaches and unnecessary angst for authorities and individuals involved. I think the changes in this bill go some way to ensuring that there is consistency and common sense applied within the corrections system.
I appreciate the briefing that was provided by the minister's office and directorate staff on the changes in this bill. Again, as I said, the opposition are satisfied that it goes some way to cleaning up some of the anomalies and issues that do exist within the existing legislation.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for Ageing) (11.22), in reply: The Corrections and Sentencing Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 amends laws to improve the safety and security of the broader community and clarifies issues which will improve justice procedures.
The primary change made by this bill is to provide a scheme for change of name applications that will apply to people sentenced to imprisonment, including parolees. The scheme will apply to people serving a sentence of imprisonment. This includes sentences of imprisonment to be served in full-time detention, periodic detention or release on licence.
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