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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 5128 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Mr Speaker,

I wish to table an exposure draft of the Mediation Bill 1996.

My purpose in placing an exposure draft of the Bill on the table of the Assembly is to allow Members adequate time to consider in detail the proposed provisions of the Bill.

My intention is to introduce the Bill formally into the Assembly early in the 1997 Autumn Sittings. In the meantime, copies of the exposure draft will be made available for public comment. A final draft of the Bill will be prepared in the light of comments received from Members of the Assembly and the public generally. Particular attention will be given to comments from practitioners in the mediation industry in the Territory.

Although this exposure draft is small in terms of its volume, it nevertheless heralds the beginning of a new era in providing the public with access to justice in the ACT. Its importance must be seen in the context that Governments in general are becoming increasingly concerned about the escalating cost of access to justice through litigation. As His Honour the Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Gerard Brennan, recently said

if no new methods of dispensing justice are devised, the number of cases requiring resolution by trial will increase, trials will become more difficult and more time consuming and, in consequence, the cost of litigation and the amount of public funds that will have to be spent on litigation will escalate.

The aim of the legislation that this exposure draft Bill envisages is precisely to meet the concern expressed by His Honour - to provide a new method of dispensing justice through mediation.

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