Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (29 April) . . Page.. 115 ..
MR OSBORNE (continuing):
Mr Speaker, this Bill has been something of a marathon to put together, and I believe that there is still some running to do. I propose, Mr Speaker, to take this Bill into committee. We look forward to the input of all members, but particularly of the Greens and Mr Moore, who have shown a longstanding commitment to beating down the wall of commercial-in-confidence - and, more particularly, the Greens in regard to that commercial-in-confidence issue. I hope that in time it will emerge as something that really does require government to operate in the sunshine. I commend the Bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mr Humphries) adjourned.
MR OSBORNE (10.45): Mr Speaker, I present the Children's Services (Amendment) Bill 1998, together with its explanatory memorandum.
Title read by Clerk.
MR OSBORNE: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
Mr Speaker, if this were a court of law, I would say that the evidence for having a children's magistrate is overwhelming and the case compelling. That is what this piece of legislation is about, Mr Speaker. But it would appear that the judge - the Government - is coming into this case carrying more than a little baggage.
The argument for a specialist magistrate for the Children's Court has a long history. In 1981 the Law Reform Commission began a detailed examination of the options for an appropriate forum for children's proceedings, and in 1982 it presented four options. The commission was of the view that the best option was that the Children's Court should have a single, legally qualified, special magistrate because it was "most important to the success of the new child welfare laws in the ACT". Despite the recommendations of the commission, no magistrate was appointed, and the option adopted was to rotate magistrates through the court - the system that exists to this day.
In 1995 the annual report of the Community Advocate said:
We have concluded ... that children would benefit greatly by tribunal style processes which would be presided over by a specialist Children's Magistrate.