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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 2642 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Why is it not possible that anyone in the community, in the interests of the community and in the interests of good governance, can challenge it if they believe that the law is not correctly administered by the Minister of the day? That is a really serious accountability issue. Why does it have to focus on whether or not you are personally hurt? I just think that is a really poor argument, and a kind of tragic one in a way too, in terms of the values of our society.

I do not expect that there will be a rush of cases to the Supreme Court after this Bill is passed. There was certainly not a great number of court cases when this provision existed before the Government amended the AD(JR) Act to delete it. I am merely reverting the AD(JR) Act to its pre-1997 form. The major hurdle to the use of the AD(JR) Act, which is the legal expense of taking a case to the Supreme Court, will still remain, and that is another very major issue in this whole debate which we could go on about. The legal expenses are an impediment to many people challenging the law. Once again, it may not necessarily be that someone who is personally adversely affected has the financial ability to challenge this law.

My Bill merely implements the recommendation of the Stein report that any person should be entitled to approach the Supreme Court to civilly enforce breaches of the Land Act without being required to establish common law standing. I believe that this is a very important legal principle. That is why I really hope that we do get the support for this and that Mr Rugendyke reconsiders, because this is really something about our Territory, our values and our society and whether we want to have accountability mechanisms so that we can challenge processes because the law has not been administered correctly. It should not be based on whether or not you are going to be personally wounded or hurt or adversely affected.

Of course, the other issue is that there has been an impression given that we will have endless frivolous claims going on and on. Well, a judge will check whether or not he thinks that there is a claim against the legality of a decision before it is accepted into the court. While, of course, that process in itself will cause a delay, it is not of the huge dimensions that some people have suggested here.

In conclusion, what I would like to say is that this is a really basic accountability mechanism. It is about giving everyone in the community the opportunity to challenge the process if they think a law is not being correctly administered. I believe that it is important that we allow this process to occur.

The other final point I would like to make is that I find it interesting that the Liberals particularly, depending on the situation, have a wonderfully generous approach to human nature. I have heard it several times in this place when we talk about regulation versus a voluntary approach to particular issues, maybe environmental, and industrial issues too - OH&S and so on. I can remember so clearly Mr De Domenico, but other Liberal members since that time, saying, "There is an argument about regulation, but basically people in our community are good. They will try to do the right thing. Businesses will try to do the right thing. Let us just keep it voluntary". Now we hear from that side,

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