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Debate resumed from 1 June 1995, on motion by Mr Humphries:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SPEAKER: Is it the wish of the Assembly to debate this order of the day concurrently with the Pawnbrokers (Amendment) Bill 1995 and the Second-hand Dealers and Collectors (Amendment) Bill 1995? There being no objection, that course will be followed. I remind members that in debating order of the day No. 3 they may also address their remarks to orders of the day Nos 4 and 5.

MR CONNOLLY (5.25): The Opposition has no problem in supporting these three Bills. They are comparatively minor housekeeping matters. When I saw the titles of these Bills on the notice paper I thought that they may have been a rather more substantial exercise in law reform in these areas. It is a matter of public record that through 1993 and early 1994 there was a very major operation by the New South Wales police which involved the use of pawnbrokers' shops which were in fact set up by the police as part of a sting operation. That operation was enormously successful in breaking down housebreaking gangs throughout Sydney and gave New South Wales police - again it is a matter of public record - fairly invaluable intelligence on how housebreaking operations go, how goods and material move around the State and indeed around the country, and how the trades of pawnbroking, second-hand dealing and auctioneering, despite the impeccable moral character of some members of those trades, can be used as the main channels through which stolen property moves.

It was certainly noted at a Police Ministers conference in 1994 that, as a result of the information gained in that New South Wales exercise, there would be some fairly substantial law reform on pawnbroking and second-hand dealing. I assume that that work is still going on in New South Wales and that we will at some stage seek more substantial reform. I think Mr Humphries adverted to that towards the end of his remarks. These procedures relate to tidying up some review mechanisms. They are simple and straightforward and deserve to be supported.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (5.28), in reply: In closing the debate, Mr Speaker, I welcome the support of the Opposition. Although these are not earth-shattering amendments, they certainly ensure that we bring the law of the Territory into line with practice. Where there is a variation, we risk putting people outside the law unnecessarily. We should avoid that, and this legislation is designed to do that. As I indicated in my presentation speech, there will be further examination of the general law relating to pawnbrokers and so on, particularly with respect to the fit and proper person test, which members would be aware the Liberal Party has some problems with.

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