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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 17 February 2005 2005) . . Page.. 608 ..

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: The discussion is concluded.

Order of the day—postponement

Ordered that order of the day No 3, executive business, be postponed until a later hour.

Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2004 (No 2)

Debate resumed from 9 December 2004, on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (4.20): The opposition will be supporting the Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2004 (No 2) and the government amendments to it. I thank departmental officers, as well as Mr Stanhope’s staff, for the briefing that I had some time ago.

As is common with these sorts of bills, the bill makes a number of technical amendments, a number of amendments suggested by departments and some other fairly minor amendments. For example, going through the bill, there is a typo in respect of the Agents Act. This bill will allow banks 10 days to get interest to the territory, rather than one. That is quite important, even though it is just correcting a typo. There are some other amendments, for example, to the Bail Act in relation to a reference to a single judge. I always worry when people try to amend the Bail Act. I think they might try to weaken it, but that is not the case here. It is simply a reference to a single judge designed to ensure commonality between what occurs in the Supreme Court and the Magistrates Court. Again, it is a minor amendment.

The law society has proposed a number of amendments to the Civil Law (Wrongs) Act that have been accepted by the government. The government has forewarned me of a further proposed amendment to clause 51(3)(b) of the bill to substitute “instruct” for “consult”, relating to when a claimant first goes to a lawyer. The crucial time, then, is not so much consulting but instructing, because things flow from that. It is the formal giving of instructions that actually starts the clock ticking and that is the date from which the normal six-year period will apply.

There is a good amendment suggested by the law society that ensures that a client does not have to pay twice for filing. Again, that is something that is obviously good for the consumer. There is a fairly minor amendment to the Confiscation of Criminal Assets Act to bring it into line with the Crimes Act and the Legislation Act. “Indictment” can be read as “information” and vice versa. That is important in terms of prosecutions. I am happy to see an amendment to clause 16 of the Confiscation of Criminal Assets Act. Currently, the police have to prove that the property is tainted. They have to elicit enough evidence to say that the property is tainted, rather than what is more normal, that is, that they suspect it is tainted. For the police to get to the stage where they can bring someone before a court, the word “suspect” makes it far better for police operations, obviously far better for the community and brings the legislation into line with similar standards elsewhere in the criminal law. So it is quite a sensible amendment.

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