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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (29 November) . . Page.. 5168 ..


That may happen in the beginning, and a body of case law will build up and make that reasonably clear. I do not think we will get the lawyers picnic the Bar Association fears we might get. We may have some early test cases. Again, it goes to how this legislation works as a tapestry, in the sense that quite a few bits of it weave together. I am comfortable that the balance is one that provides an opportunity to reflect without stymying the capabilities of the commission to conduct the necessary public hearings when they think it is right to do so.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (8.02): Firstly, Mr Rattenbury, I do not think the Bar Association thought the lawyers picnic was altogether a bad thing.

Mr Barr: Never a truer word has been said, Mrs Dunne.

MRS DUNNE: I often say truer words, Chief Minister; even true words the Chief Minister can agree with. This is a very important issue which goes to the question about how this legislation is balanced in favour of open or closed hearings. The Chief Minister consistently says that he thinks the legislation is neutral and that the legislation should be neutral. I think this is one of those hurdles put in the way of the commissioner which will make it less likely for the commissioner to have a public hearing.

Mr Rattenbury is right in that the inspector does not have the power to respond in any formal way as a result of this reporting. But the mere fact that you have to plan at least seven days ahead and that you have to then report your decision at least seven days ahead means that is another impediment. The view expressed quite eloquently by Ms Lee in the committee is that the default position will be a closed hearing because there are too many impediments.

I think it is a great shame Mr Rattenbury has changed his mind because in discussion in the committee the clear view was that we did not want to create a default position for closed hearings. The government made it clear that it did not want to create a default position the other way. We in the Canberra Liberals have a particular view about that and it is not going to prevail. However, I warn members that as a result of this provision it will be less likely that the commissioner will decide in favour of an open hearing because he has one more hurdle to cross.

Question put:

That the amendment be agreed to.

The Assembly voted—

Ayes 6 : Mr Coe, Mr Wall, Mrs Dunne, Ms Lawder, Ms Lee, Mr Parton

Noes 9 : Mr Barr, Ms Le Couteur, Ms J Burch, Mr Rattenbury, Ms Cheyne, Mr Steel, Ms Fitzharris, Ms Stephen-Smith, Mr Gentleman


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