Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (22 September) . . Page.. 1987 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

I was pleased to hear Mr Rugendyke's comments in that respect. He commented about a policeman's sixth sense of when an application is vexatious or frivolous. It is unfortunately the case that vexatious or frivolous applications are made from time to time. That issue has been picked up in this legislation by inserting provisions which allow a court to compensate a party in proceedings if it is satisfied that the person seeking an order against that party has made an application that is frivolous, vexatious or not in good faith. I believe that will go some way to reassuring those who are concerned, as the Lone Fathers Association are concerned, about the misuse of the very extensive power created in this legislation.

Clearly, there is not a heavy onus of proof placed on those who seek domestic violence orders. It could be said that the onus of proof, if you like, is the lightest seen anywhere in legislation in this Territory. That is most deliberate, because it is essential that those who have a reasonable fear be able to obtain orders without being put to a high standard of proof, because the requirement of a high standard of proof may lead to a delay, and delay may lead to serious consequences. We have, unfortunately, seen such cases in the past. It is the determination of the Government and, I hope, all members of this place to ensure that such situations do not arise in the future, if the law can successfully intervene to protect individuals.

I think that the balance we strike is the right one. It is in favour of the early grant of interim orders, with a relatively low standard of proof, but the legislation before the house today does offer those against whom such powers are used in a vexatious or frivolous way some redress in the form of compensation at the end of the process for misuse of the process. Nonetheless, it does not detract from the relative ease with which a person may obtain an order under this legislation. That is deliberate. It is essential to retain that in such settings.

I want to thank again members of this place for their comments. Obviously, all the people who have spoken in this debate have thoughtfully and carefully prepared their remarks to contribute to this debate. I think they have contributed also to the strong multipartisan approach we have taken in this place over a number of years to the issue of domestic violence. I think we need to continue to do that, because that will ensure that we send a signal to the community that there are no circumstances where domestic violence is a suitable solution to a problem and that those who decide to use it as some sort of solution to their particular position or problem will find that the law is entirely unsympathetic and that those who make the law are equally unsympathetic to their position.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .