Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 November 2021) . . Page.. 3582 ..
budget initiatives mean that Canberrans can access timely support and advocacy when they need it. I commend the budget initiatives for the Justice and Community Safety Directorate to the Assembly.
MR CAIN (Ginninderra) (11.26): We will be supporting the appropriation. I will mention a significant disappointment on my part but also a positive achievement.
As we saw through this budget, $40 million of funding for the reintegration centre was withdrawn from the budget. Knowing how important restorative justice is to the Attorney-General, this must be a disappointment. The reintegration centre is a pillar of the government’s plan to reduce recidivism. The future of this is now uncertain, given the government’s budget position. I commend a review of this approach.
On the bright side, there is something the Canberra Liberals have been advocating for in both this Assembly and the previous Assembly. We now have funding approved for a full-time coroner. This is a very sensible measure and something I know the legal community has been calling for, for some time. It needs to be implemented as soon as possible. One thing I will be particularly mindful of is ensuring that the new coroner is not diverted from coronial duties to assist with Magistrates Court listings, as tempting as that may be.
It would be negligent of me to not talk about some of the legislative proposals put forward by the Canberra Liberals during this term. While we do not have a share of the appropriation, we have done a darn good job in bringing legislative reform to this Assembly, some of which, it is pleasing to say, has been successful. Of particular note is the shadow Attorney-General’s stealthing legislation, an Australian first. I am glad that the members of this Assembly were unanimous in supporting this to ensure that stealthing would be considered by the courts to negate consent.
It was also pleasing to see from the Canberra Liberals the release of an exposure draft for legislation to strengthen domestic violence laws. And it seems that we have provoked the government into consumer protection legislation regarding unfair rescissions of off-the-plan contracts. There was a unique occasion on 9 November when two bills with exactly the same titles were introduced, one by me and one by the Attorney-General. Rumour has it that the fact that I had announced in the media a few weeks before that my bill would be introduced provoked the government to do something about this unfair practice in our community. I take that as a contribution by the Canberra Liberals.
One thing that has concerned me is the disregard of a vital component of the rule of law in this Assembly by this Labor-Greens government. I have spoken on at least one occasion about the fact that ACT laws should not be passed if they conflict with commonwealth legislation. It leaves the members of the ACT community in doubt about which laws actually apply to them. This is especially challenging, I would suggest, for ACT government lawyers tasked with providing full, frank and fully informed legal advice to ministers and decision-makers, which should include an indication of whether a particular decision under an ACT law would conflict with either commonwealth legislation or Supreme Court precedence. It is a disturbing trend. I would encourage individual MLAs to consider that the rule of law, including not having inconsistent laws, is a vital component of our parliamentary democracy.