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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 18 March 2010) . . Page.. 1085 ..


bills that have gone before that amend laws administered by the Department of Justice and Community Safety. In this case 10 acts are to be amended. I would comment that a number of the amendments in this bill are substantive in nature. These I will highlight later in my remarks. The others are relatively minor and non-contentious.

On the subject of the substantive amendments, I draw to the attention of the Assembly that once again the Attorney-General has bundled substantive changes into omnibus legislation. Omnibus legislation is meant for amendments of a minor, technical or non-contentious nature. That is the generally accepted practice. They are not meant to be for substantive amendments, and that is not the generally accepted practice. It is about time that the Attorney-General honoured the generally accepted practice.

While the Liberals support all the elements of the bill on this occasion, I still object to the approach that the attorney now consistently adopts. I will say again that substantive changes should be presented in stand-alone bills and not lumped into omnibus legislation. Mr Corbell seems to be a slow learner of the first order.

The first amendment this bill introduces is to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008. This is one of the substantive changes. It disapplies provisions relating to correction requests and appeals within the ACAT for decisions under land, planning and environment laws. They will now be appealable to the Supreme Court, but only on questions of law. This restores the provisions that were in place in the days of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which the ACAT replaced. It fills an unintended hole.

I will highlight just two other amendments to the ACAT Act, which again refer to matters brought under the land, planning and environment laws. They clarify, firstly, who can be added as a party, such that only a person who could have been a party under an authorising law can be joined to an action, and, secondly, that the ACAT may order costs for frivolous or vexatious claims.

On this last point, I must confess to feelings of both delight and astonishment, equally mixed. For some years now I have been advocating that proponents of claims that are of a frivolous or vexatious nature should be made to pay in the AAT and in the ACAT. Such claims do little other than delay the inevitable. They waste the time of the court and the defending counsel and add to the costs of planning and development proposals in the private sector, generally driving up costs.

Madam Assistant Speaker, you can understand my delight when I saw this amendment come through. My astonishment arises because the Attorney-General, Mr Corbell, until now has been the biggest opponent of this change. Twice before in this place I have proposed the very approach that is now being taken by the Attorney-General, and twice before he has opposed those approaches. I am delighted that the scales have fallen from Mr Corbell’s eyes. I am delighted that he now sees with some clarity the error of his ways and the wisdom of the path now created after all those years.

In relation to the question of the excluding of holding costs from the costs that the ACAT can consider in handing down a cost order, I took advice from one of the


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