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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 3824 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

While the outcome of this report, I am sure, was disappointing to a number of the residents, I hope the general outcome will not be as bad as they believe it to be, once those earthworks are in place. I appreciated the work of the secretary to the committee, Rod Power, as always, and the cooperation of my colleagues in dealing with this issue.

Debate (on motion by Mr Humphries) adjourned.


Debate resumed from 26 September 1996, on motion by Mr Stefaniak:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MS REILLY (10.57): I will be brief on this Bill. I congratulate the Government on putting up this amendment, because, as is said in the explanatory memorandum, it has made the interests of the child paramount. It also follows the recent changes to the Commonwealth Family Law Act, and I think this is important because, where children come under the auspices of the Act, it is the child that is important, not the interests or the needs of the parents, the foster parents or other people. It is the best outcome for that child that is important, and that has to stay as the central focus of any consideration. It is important that it is spelt out in legislation, which is what these amendments are doing. For that reason, I support the Bill.

As well as putting it into legislation, it must be reflected in the administration and management of this Act and the programs that come under the auspices of this Act and the Government in administering the Act. I want to emphasise today that it is not just a matter of having legislation; it is what you do with that legislation that is important. The administration of the Children's Services Act continues to be the focus of a number of complaints, concerns and worries about what is happening in some circumstances, and I think this is something that needs to be addressed and attention needs to be paid to it. It is important that we have the legislation, but we must administer the Act in the best possible way to ensure that the needs of children remain paramount in any consideration. It cannot happen just with legislation; the administration is also important.

Section 83 also needs to be changed to take account of the changes to section 5. With the way that is written, those subsequent amendments are required. But I would like to point out that, in section 83 subsection (1), paragraph (c) is missing. It would be useful to know what orders would be made under paragraph (c) as included in subsection (3). I think that is something that needs to be addressed as well. Apart from the comments about the administration of the Act, I have no objection to the amendments that are being proposed, and we support them.

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