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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 2 Hansard (20 March) . . Page.. 626..

An amendment to section 222 of the Legal Profession Act is proposed to ensure trust moneys remain in the ACT unless authorised by the Law Society. Interest generated from legal practice general trust accounts is a primary source of income for legal assistance funding for the ACT. Legal assistance funding reduces barriers faced by people who could not otherwise afford legal representation. The bill inserts a new provision into section 222 to reduce the scope for moneys to be directed out of the ACT.

Other amendments to the Legal Profession Act transfer responsibility for licensing and disciplinary matters for barristers from the Law Society to the Bar Association to better align responsibility and functions. At present, the Bar Council informs the Law Society's assessment, compliance and disciplinary processes for barristers but the Bar Association does not have formal responsibility for matters concerning barristers. It is intended that the Bar Council will continue in its assessment, advisory and reporting functions but will now advise the Bar Association, not the Law Society, in relation to barristers.

Finally, the bill amends section 25A(1) of the Public Trustee Act to standardise processes for trust fund advances and ensure all beneficiaries have equal access to trust funds in times of need. The amendment recognises that certain trusts, which are not presently administered in the same way as other more usual trusts, are becoming more common. The amendment updates the act's provisions to maintain currency with our times and provides for all trusts to be treated in the same way.

These are technical amendments that do not reflect a change in government policies. However, the changes will improve the operation of laws in a range of statutes in the ACT statute book and will help to better protect and assist people in our community. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

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

Sitting suspended from 12.29 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice


MR HANSON: This time my question is not for the Minister for Health; by special request it is for the Minister for Economic Development. Minister, the government announced that the so-called stimulus package would include a clause regarding extension of time debts accrued over the last couple of years. The Chief Minister's media release on 6 March stated that for "EOT debts that accrued for the period 1 July 2012 to 31 March 2014 EOT fees will be waived". What was the rationale for this retrospective feature of the package?

MR BARR: Some debts under the previous arrangements were in fact of greater value than the value of the land, thereby making it very difficult for developers to complete any development on the sites. So the government looked at those

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