Page 4090 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 22 October 1991

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Debate resumed from 12 September 1991, on motion by Mr Connolly:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MADAM TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is it the wish of the Assembly to debate this order of the day concurrently with the Adoption of Children (Amendment) Bill 1991? There being no objection, that course will be followed. I remind members that in debating order of the day No. 3 they may also address their remarks to order of the day No. 4.

MR STEFANIAK (9.39): Madam Temporary Deputy Speaker, I am glad that my colleague Mr Connolly said that we will do the in-principle stage tonight and the detail stage tomorrow, because a couple of things have cropped up which I would like to check out further. I may be bringing in an additional amendment as a result of that. This particular Bill will be supported by the Liberal Party, as will the procedural Bill in relation to the adoption of children. I really will not direct any remarks to the latter Bill because it is just procedural.

However, I advise the house that we have a number of problems with the way that this particular Act has operated since 1986. I am pleased to see that a number of problems and potential problems are addressed in this Bill. There are a couple of points which the Attorney highlighted in his speech which I would be a little bit concerned about. I will be interested to see how they operate. We will be supporting the Bill. I will be moving four amendments. I will talk about each of them in more detail later, but I mention them in this speech because they exemplify the problems that have been encountered since the Act came in in 1986.

The Act actually replaced the Child Welfare Ordinance, and when this was enacted in 1986 it set up the Office of the Youth Advocate, who is now the Community Advocate. There have been a number of teething problems, shall we say, with the operation of this Act. Indeed, even if this Bill and my four amendments are passed, no doubt there will still be further problems with this piece of legislation in the way it operates in the legal system in the ACT. So, I think the house should be alerted to that and, indeed, further refinements will be needed to make this legislation as effective as everyone hoped it would be in 1986.

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