Page 1929 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 June 2022

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The reporting requirements reflect a very important underlying rationale: the need for transparency and accountability in extraordinary times. However, clearly that rationale does not apply for measures where they no longer have effect, or where the Assembly has seen fit to adopt it as an ongoing piece of regular legislation. As such, the amendments remove reporting and tabling requirements where a COVID-19 measure has been legislated to operate on an ongoing basis, or where such a measure has been repealed.

The bill makes amendments to the Gaming Machine Act 2004 to provide an additional year, from 30 November 2022 to 30 November 2023, for a report to be presented to the Legislative Assembly on the operation of the gaming machine tax rebate provisions. Due to COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns, many clubs have been closed and have not paid standard rates of tax. This has created difficulties for a proper assessment to be undertaken on gaming machine tax by November this year. The amendments extend the tabling requirements of this report to 30 November 2023. These amendments will support a more objective and informative report to be prepared and presented on the gaming machine tax rebate.

As I have alluded to, this bill includes two significant reforms to remove legal barriers that provide a clear pathway for access to justice for survivors of child abuse. First, the bill will allow survivors to apply to the court to have a past settlement agreement set aside if, at the time the agreement was made, there were legal barriers to the survivor being fully compensated or if the agreement in all the circumstances is not a just or reasonable agreement. Once the agreement is set aside, the survivor will then be able to have their claim determined on its merits and receive just compensation for the harm they have suffered.

Second, the bill will broaden the definition of “child abuse” in the Limitation Act to encompass “physical” abuse. As a result, survivors who experienced historical physical abuse as children will no longer be statute barred from bringing a claim for compensation in respect of that physical abuse.

I would like to acknowledge the survivors and their advocates who have placed their trust in us by sharing their deeply personal stories and generously contributing their extensive knowledge. I know they are watching the progress of this bill with great interest. Thank you for your advice, and your strength and commitment to seeing this reform through. In particular, I would like to express my gratitude to Mr Steven Fisher, the CEO of Beyond Abuse. These reforms have been influenced by your voice.

I also acknowledge the survivors and advocates who lobbied for these reforms around Australia with courage and tenacity. We have a responsibility to meet the extraordinary bravery, resilience and determination of survivors and their advocates with law reform that provides a way for survivors to access the compensation they deserve. The bill builds on the ACT’s previous reforms to allow greater access to justice for survivors of child abuse, in line with and going beyond the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in its 2015 redress and civil litigation report.

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