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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (3 August) . . Page.. 3290..

MR STEFANIAK: Scrutiny report 54 contains the committee's comments on six bills, three government responses and one private member's response. I commend the report to the Assembly.

Statute Law Amendment Bill 2004

Debate resumed from 1 April 2004, on the motion by Mr Stanhope:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MS DUNDAS (10.40): The Democrats will be supporting the Statute Law Amendment Bill 2004. Generally these bills cover only minor issues in legislation, but they remain an important element of our legislative system by ensuring that our statute books remain up to date. The constant generation of these bills ensures that there is a sustained reassessment of the language and clarity of legislation to both assist the interpretation of laws by the courts and enable ordinary Canberrans to read and understand the laws that govern our territory. There are a number of issues dealt with in particular in this bill.

The bill allows dentists to prescribe fentanyl, a short-term pain relief drug that may assist in the treatment of pain after dental surgery. The bill restores the power of the Conservator of Flora and Fauna to sign off on land management agreements as part of rural leases. This power was given to ACTPLA as part of the planning and land bills debated in late 2002. The bill responds to concerns raised during the Canberra bushfires about access to medicine in an emergency. The bill allows dispensing of some medicines by pharmacists during emergencies under certain conditions. If a prescription has been lost or a person, for some reason, does not have access to their medication-for example, because it was destroyed by fire-people can still access potential lifesaving drugs without the need for a prescription.

There are numerous other small changes to the legislation to ensure that our laws are kept up to date, which are clear in their meanings. I thank the staff in the parliamentary counsel's office for their hard work and continued vigilance to ensure that the ACT statute book remains the most accessible and understandable body of legislation in the country.

MR STEFANIAK (10.42): The opposition will be supporting this bill. It is interesting to note that there are no repeals in this bill. There are several minor technical amendments which I think are quite sensible-firstly an amendment to the Drugs of Dependence Act to enable dentists to administer fentanyl. That will bring our law into line with that of other states.

There is a sensible amendment to the Magistrates Court. It is pointless issuing an infringement notice after the period to bring a prosecution has expired-that is a waste of time and effort for everyone. It is also very sensible to allow pharmacists to supply a small quantity of certain prescription medicines to a person who does not have a doctor's or dentist's prescription in an emergency, in a case where it has been stolen, lost or burnt. We witnessed this during the bushfires. I think that is terribly important because, in some instances, it has the potential to save life. Apart from that, there is nothing particularly remarkable in relation to this bill.

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