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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 9 Hansard (21 September) . . Page.. 3025..


Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2006

Debate resumed from 17 August 2006, on motion by Mr Corbell:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra—Leader of the Opposition) (11.44): Mr Speaker, the opposition will be supporting this bill, which I think is about the 15th or so in the series—I wonder whether the series will ever finish. The bill seeks to make a number of what may be termed minor technical amendments to various acts. I will not take up much of the Assembly's time on this bill, which does some finetuning and fundamentally improves the operation of various acts.

There are some changes to a couple of areas which could be described as probably slightly more than just technical. One is the amendment to the Court Procedures Act 2004 which clarifies matters that can take place in a criminal trial prior to the empanelling of a jury. This will clear up an area of confusion regarding the role of the Supreme Court prior to empanelling a jury.

There is also an amendment to the Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Act 2001 to include the crime of common assault. This is one of the most basic of crimes and I think it is very sensible to increase the scope of that act. I am amazed that this amendment has not been made before now, and I think it is important to ensure that there is a proper range of offences in relation to that act. There are also some further improvements in relation to the consumer credit regulation. I also single out the Residential Tenancies Act to which a sensible improvement is proposed in respect of tenancies in common law.

The scrutiny of bills committee made a comment in relation to a matter concerning the Security Industry Act 2003, but I do not think that is of particular consequence. We note that the fine for an offence is a maximum of 10 penalty units. The rule of thumb, of course, is that the fine for strict liability offences should be no more than $5,000 or 50 penalty units, so this fine is well within that. Although we have made a comment because we are dealing with strict liability offences, it is a matter of minor note and I will not go into it any further. As is normally the case with these types of bills, the amendments are minor and the opposition supports them.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.46): I will be supporting this omnibus bill. The bill makes mostly technical and minor amendments to a number of acts, very few of which will affect the intent of the legislation when passed. Consequently, I do not need to discuss the bill in any detail but there are a few areas that warrant some brief comment.

I welcome the changes to the Civil Law (Wrongs) Act. Insurance in the ACT is a business operation. In areas such as workers compensation, third party accident, professional indemnity and public liability it serves a substantial public service. Members would recall the supposed tort law crisis which highly profitable insurance companies whipped up around Australia a few years ago in order to bring down their exposure to potential claims. Thankfully, the ACT was much more moderate in its response to those pressures than were other jurisdictions. At the same time, though, given the need for effective and affordable insurance cover, unless the public sector is


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