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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 2 Hansard (18 February) . .

Page.. 649..

Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Amendment Bill 2016

Debate resumed from 11 February 2016, on motion by Mr Corbell:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Corrections, Minister for Education, Minister for Justice and Consumer Affairs and Minister for Road Safety) (4.23): I will keep my comments on this bill brief—but not too brief—for Mr Smyth's benefit, but I will be supporting it. As members know, at the end of last year the Assembly unanimously supported the Crimes (Domestic and Family Violence) Legislation Amendment Bill. The changes introduced through that bill made several legislative improvements in relation to domestic and family violence.

One of these changes created a new class of interim domestic violence order. This allows a court to extend interim DVOs when there are current criminal charges unresolved before the court. In these instances the orders will remain interim until after the related criminal charges are heard and a decision is made on the final orders.

Since the scheme commenced in November last year stakeholders have raised some minor issues that need to be fixed so that the scheme will work effectively. Today's bill makes amendments to address these issues and ensure the scheme will work efficiently. All of these changes are technical and administrative in nature. The amendments are to the Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Act and the Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Regulation. As one example, the court can dismiss matters where parties fail to appear. This case management practice occurs in relation to general interim DVOs, but the bill will extend that practice to interim DVOs as well.

It is not ideal of course that we have to return to the Assembly today to make some further minor changes to this legislation. But this does occur sometimes, especially with fairly complicated administrative matters such as this one. I do not think the blame lies anywhere in particular. The government did consult with stakeholders prior to introducing the scheme and it seems that there are some technical issues that no-one was aware of until the scheme actually started to operate.

I am happy to support the changes to make sure that this important scheme operates smoothly and as intended and that the courts have maximum efficiency when it comes to the important area of DVOs.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (4.25): The Canberra Liberals will be supporting this bill. We have long been on record as supporting all the mechanisms we can put in place to address the tragic and heartbreaking problems of domestic violence. We are also on record as saying that, if anything, we should be doing more to prevent these terrible crimes. However, that does not mean we should not and will not engage positively with the programs put forward in this place or others as they arrive.

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