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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 9 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 3899..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

impartiality of our magistrates and judges. The judiciary's impartiality is there for all to see because the trial process is open. My government is of the view that the question of fitness to plead is a question of fact that should be tested pursuant to the normal legal procedures followed in a criminal case. The bill I present puts things right.

The bill will amend the Crimes Act 1900 to restore the adjudication of a person's mental fitness to plead to its rightful place in the court. If a person's mental health is impaired to the extent that they cannot understand the nature of the charge, enter a plea, instruct their lawyer, or engage in a number of other important procedural decisions, then they are not fit to plead.

The bill will ensure that if a fitness to plead issue is raised by the defence, prosecution or the judge, then a judge or magistrate will adjudicate on the issue. The bill does not affect the special hearing provisions currently in place to hear matters involving a person who is not fit to plead. If a person is found fit to plead, then they will be tried by a court, as anyone else would be. I would like to note that this change does not devalue the important work carried out over the past 10 years by the tribunal. The tribunal has done exactly what the Assembly asked of it under the relevant legislation that governs the tribunal's functions and responsibilities.

This bill will help to mark a clear division between dispensing criminal justice and therapeutic treatment. By no means, however, will it mean that people convicted of an offence will not receive appropriate treatment if they also have a mental impairment. I commend the Crimes Amendment Bill 2004 (No 3) to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Health-Standing Committee

Report 9

MS TUCKER (10.41): I present the following report:

Health-Standing Committee-Report 9-The allied health care needs of people in residential aged care, dated 13 August 2004, together with a copy of the extracts of the relevant minutes of proceedings.

I seek leave to move a motion authorising the report for publication.

Leave granted.

MS TUCKER: I move:

That the report be authorised for publication.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

MS TUCKER: I move:

That the report be noted.

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