Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 March 2018) . . Page.. 758 ..

person must then be brought in front of a Supreme Court judge. This process is an inefficient use of judge and sheriff time and, instead, the bill will make changes to allow penalty notices to be issued for breaches of jury responsibilities.

In addition, the legislation increases the efficiency of the ACT’s coronial system through amendments to the Coroners Act 1997. For example, the bill includes amendments to reduce the rate of invasive autopsies by enabling a coroner to more easily and quickly make an order for examinations of a less intrusive nature, such as the taking of a blood sample or taking fingerprints. A coroner will also be able to obtain medical records from a person’s medical provider and use them to finalise an inquest without undertaking a post-mortem examination.

Ensuring that invasive autopsies are only carried out when absolutely necessary will, in some cases, permit the quicker release of deceased persons to their families. The government is keenly aware that coronial processes can be distressing for friends or family members, and conducting these processes in a way that is both efficient and also sensitive remains a high priority.

The Coroners Act already contains a safeguard on post mortems which require a coroner to consider how to minimise distress or offence to a person because of their cultural attitudes or spiritual beliefs. These amendments will require a coroner to have these same considerations in mind when exercising any function or making a decision in relation to an inquest.

The bill contains reforms which help the courts and the tribunal to provide more effective access to justice for Canberrans. For example, in the Supreme Court case Kaney v Rushton last year Justice Refshauge underscored the need to clarify the process of enforcement of tribunal orders. The bill includes a series of amendments that respond to His Honour’s judgement, including amending the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008 to make clear that a tribunal order may be enforced by filing a copy of the order sealed by the tribunal, along with an affidavit in support stating that the order has not been complied with. This important clarification will reduce the potential for uncertainty and delay in the enforcement of tribunal orders and provide additional incentive to comply with them.

Another example of the bill helping ACT courts and the tribunal to provide access to justice for Canberrans is the amendment of the Utilities Act 2000, which increases the maximum monetary amount of compensation for energy and water complaints upheld by the tribunal from $10,000 to $25,000. The compensation limit has not been increased for 15 years. This new maximum amount will make sure that the tribunal is better able to redress unfair conduct or poor service by energy and water providers in the ACT.

I would like, finally, to discuss the amendments that support diversity and inclusion in legal processes. I am proud to live in a city as diverse as Canberra, and the ACT government is committed to supporting the inclusion of all Canberrans. All Canberrans should be able to participate in the ACT’s legal processes, regardless of sex, ethnic origin, religion, language or disability status, and, with that goal in mind,

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . . Video