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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 13 Hansard (31 October) . .

Page.. 4736..


Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 (No 2)

Debate resumed from 21 September 2017, on motion by Mr Ramsay:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (5.46): The Canberra Liberals will be supporting this bill. As the explanatory statement says:

The Bill makes amendments to a number of laws in the Justice and Community Safety portfolio. The amendments are intended to improve the operation of each amended law without amounting to a major change in policy.

Indeed, this appears to be the case. However, I would make the point that even small changes which, when taken individually, are all understandable and acceptable, can form a major change when they are grouped together. They can form a pattern of reforms that then do amount to a major change in policy over time. There is a set of amendments relating to FOI legislation contained in this bill that may indeed reflect that sort of change.

But, as I said, we will not be opposing this bill, nor will I be moving amendments to change those particular aspects. But what I would put on the record is that we will be watching for those changes by stealth, especially if we see further changes to that particular piece of FOI legislation being brought forward without a proper debate about the actual head legislation.

I will review some of the other changes before turning to the FOI changes. There are changes to the Associations Incorporation Act. I understand that this was at the request of a federal minister. It follows a problematic case which showed a flaw in existing legislation. The amendment means that a person disqualified from a commonwealth board cannot retain a position on a local board. The scrutiny committee has noted that this could impinge on the right to a fair and public hearing and has asked for further clarification. However, all jurisdictions have been asked by the commonwealth to implement this change, and we will be supporting that request.

An amendment to the Co-operatives National Law (ACT) Act 2017 allows fees, allowances and expenses to be prescribed by disallowable instrument rather than by regulation. In the spirit of less regulation is better regulation—not always, but mostly—we support this change.

There are also changes to the Coroners Act 1997. The most important element of this change is to remove the mandatory requirement for a hearing to be held when a person dies under anaesthetic. A report needs to be made but a full hearing will no longer be mandatory. From briefings from the Attorney-General's office and from background information in the explanatory statement and presentation speech, we understand that not all deaths that occur under an anaesthetic require a full-blown


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