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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3101 ..

Ms Gallagher presented the following paper:

Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Regulation, made under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

Appropriation Bill 2010-2011

[Cognate paper: Estimates 2010-2011—Select Committee report—government response]

Proposed expenditure—Part 1.13—Department of Justice and Community Safety—$202,606,000 (net cost of outputs), $60,319,000 (capital injection) and $143,521,000 (payments on behalf of the territory), totalling $406,446,000.

Debate resumed.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (3.11): One of the follies of Attorney-General Simon Corbell in this budget was his big new idea to establish a virtual district court. I suppose the headline theme to my comments today is this: “Mr Corbell finds no supporters for his district court.”

On 5 May, the Canberra Times carried the story of the attorney’s announcement. The article reported that Chief Justice Higgins, who had led a campaign to have a permanent fifth Supreme Court judge appointed, declined to comment on the proposal for a virtual district court. The same article reported that the President of the ACT Law Society said that he was “disappointed the group was not consulted” and he was quoted as saying:

… It remains to be seen whether the addition of a virtual court is a real as opposed to a virtual solution to a very real problem …

It also reported that you, Mr Speaker, had concerns that “the idea had come out of left field with limited discussion” and that you had “concerns the reforms would not make significant difference for Canberrans waiting to access justice”. Three days later, Mr Jack Waterford contributed a major piece on the subject. His views on the subject might be summarised in a few brief quotes from his piece. Firstly, he said:

I am pretty sure that few of his—

that is, Mr Corbell’s—

obvious but unspoken problems will be addressed by a new court, real, virtual or imaginary.

Secondly, he formed the view that Mr Corbell’s big new idea “has a fairly cynical objective”. Thirdly, Mr Waterford said:

The trouble is that a District Court, even without a physical presence or separate judiciary, will quickly become a thing of itself …

Finally, he offers some advice to Mr Corbell:

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