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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 3 May 2011) . . Page.. 1666 ..


Liberties Australia put forward an alternative approach that would preserve the right to jury trials but at the same time would assist the Supreme Court to overcome its backlog woes. Its approach was to provide that the prosecutor should be enabled to make an election that an offence carrying a penalty of two to five years be heard summarily. My amendments embrace that approach.

I put forward these amendments for four reasons. Firstly, they are very simple but achieve essentially the same proposed outcome as the government’s proposal—that is, addressing the backlog. Secondly, the derogation of the right to a jury trial is significantly less than the government’s proposal. Thirdly, it is subject to review after two years of operation. My hope is that, by the time the review takes place, the Supreme Court will largely have fixed its backlog and that accordingly the provisions proposed today, if passed, will no longer be required. Fourthly, the amendment can be easily reversed and certainly much more simply than would be required to repeal the provisions set out in the government’s bill or the alternative approach suggested by the Greens.

I want to acknowledge the work of the ACT Law Society and the Bar Association. The amendments I am proposing today are not mine alone. They come from the legal profession and they are a result of extensive collaborative work between me, my office in particular, and the legal fraternity.

I turn to the first of the amendments I propose today. This amendment anticipates a range of amendments, which I have foreshadowed, and which, if passed, will obviate the need for the clause as presently constructed. It simply provides that the act commences on the sooner of the Attorney-General’s written notice or six months after notification. I commend the amendment to the Assembly.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.27): As I indicated in the in-principle debate, the Greens will be supporting the package of amendments that are being proposed by Mrs Dunne. I will not go over the comments we made in the in-principle debate—we will come to more of it further into the debate—other than simply to say that we will be broadly indicating support for this package and we will be supporting amendment No 1 as it provides a new commencement clause, which, of course, is needed as the existing commencement refers to sections that have been deleted.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.27): The government will be reluctantly supporting the amendments proposed by Mrs Dunne because we believe that some reform in this area is better than no reform. Of course, the prospect for the government, if these amendments are not agreed to, is that the bill will not pass in any form. That is regrettable from the government’s perspective.

We continue to assert that the proposals put forward in the government’s bill are the simplest and most effective mechanism to address the backlog in the Supreme Court, given the refusal of the Assembly to consider more significant structural reform and the establishment of a middle tier in our court system and a district court. That said, the proposals put forward by Mrs Dunne today are not optimal from the government’s


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