Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . Search

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (17 August) . . Page.. 2320..

Bill agreed to principle.

Detail stage

Bill, by leave, taken as a whole.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (12.07): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name [see schedule 1 at page 2383].

My office sought and received a briefing on this bill, and I thank the government for its cooperation in this regard and the officers who attended. It was a very good discussion and it certainly made it easier for me to talk about this bill today. The reasons why I felt it necessary to propose the amendments that were circulated on Tuesday are well set out in my speech at the in-principle stage and there is no need to repeat them now.

Clause 1A of my proposed amendment, while a bit wordy, does provide that any document or information that does not contain confidential or personal information is exempt from disclosure to the court only if the release of that information is not in the public interest. Clause 1B of the proposed amendment provides that the proposed section 99 (1) does not apply when the court matter is a criminal hearing. This reflects my belief that, in a criminal hearing where a person's liberty is possibly at stake, the right to a fair hearing should predominate over a person's so-called right to privacy, especially when that right to privacy does not benefit that individual.

Clause 1C of my proposed amendment provides for a regulation-making power specifically related to assisting the Commissioner of Taxation in making his or her decision as to whether the release of a document or information is in the public interest. Such guidelines would identify that relevant considerations for a decision whether or not to provide documents or information would include such things as the length of any potential jail sentence which a defendant faces, the extent to which the parties are able to obtain all relevant documents through the subpoena and discovery process, any awareness that the commissioner has that an injustice is likely to occur, the extent to which the documents contain what could properly be called confidential information, the probable culpability of the parties involved and the public interest in a broader public understanding of the matters contained in the documents.

If the government sees fit to reject the first two clauses of this amendment, I urge it to give serious consideration to supporting clause 1C. This is an uncontentious proposal which merely seeks to give the government the power to issue guidelines for specifying the kinds of circumstances in which the taxation commissioner should consider exercising his or her new power to release documents or information to the court. It keeps in place the government's desire to remove the decision-making power from the court and it also keeps in place the government's desire to expand the category of confidential documents to encompass all documents held or created by the taxation office. I commend these amendments to the Assembly.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra-Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Minister for the Arts) (12.10): The government will not support the proposals for the reasons that I outlined

Next page . . . . Previous page. . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . Search