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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2245..


Tuesday, 24 June 2003

MR SPEAKER

(Mr Berry) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Civil Law (Wrongs) Amendment Bill 2003

Mr Stanhope , by leave, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by acting clerk.

MR STANHOPE

(Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for the Environment) (10.33): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

This is the second stage of the ACT's three-stage response to the insurance crisis. The Civil Law (Wrongs) Act 2002 was the first stage, which set up the essential building blocks for reform, and included a number of tort law reforms. This bill represents stage two of the reforms.

This bill contains amendments to the act, based on the recent national reviews on insurance and tort law reform. The recent national reviews were the review of the law of negligence, also known as the Ipp review, and the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council report responding to the medical indemnity crisis, also known as the Neave review.

Stage three, which my department is currently working on, will improve the management of civil claims in our courts. This bill will amend the Civil Law (Wrongs) Act 2002 by including a range of reforms from the Ipp and Neave reviews, and also some innovative solutions developed by the territory to solve the insurance crisis.

Unlike some other Australian jurisdictions, my government has chosen a path that will not exclude genuine plaintiffs from exercising their rights to seek redress for negligent conduct. Rather, this bill includes a range of reforms to improve the ACT civil justice system, and address legal issues arising from the recent insurance crisis.

The reforms that have been included in this bill aim to create greater certainty in personal injury outcomes, in the case of medical negligence. The proposed reforms contain measures that will foster efficiency in case processing and management, and additional pre-trial procedures to assist settlement of cases before they get to court.

The bill includes some amendments which, although not essential for implementation in the territory, have been included on the basis of ensuring national consistency. Members will appreciate that it would be counterproductive for the ACT to retain a common law approach to the determination of liability in the face of widespread adoption of a new statutory framework by other states.


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