Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 3331 ..
MAGISTRATES COURT (AMENDMENT) BILL (NO. 3) 1998]
Debate resumed from 23 September 1998, on motion by Mr Stanhope:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
MR SPEAKER: Is it the wish of the Assembly to debate this order of the day concurrently with the Crimes (Amendment) Bill (No. 6) 1998 and the Magistrates Court (Amendment) Bill (No. 3) 1998? There being no objection, that course will be followed. I remind members that in debating order of the day No. 2 they may also address their remarks to orders of the day Nos 3 and 4.
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.13): I recall that my colleague Mr Humphries adjourned this debate, but I will make a few comments before Mr Humphries arrives. The Children's Services (Amendment) Bill amends the Children's Services Act so that children cannot be committed to an institution under the new fine recovery scheme established by the Magistrates Court (Amendment) Act 1998 until the magistrate has considered a report by the Community Advocate about the circumstances of the child. The issues that are set out in this legislation are ones that the Government has had under consideration for some time, but it is appropriate for Mr Humphries to put the Government's position.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (11.15): I thank Mr Moore for quickly being able to cover for me. It is of course his fault that the previous Bill was adjourned unexpectedly, and that prevented me being in the chamber when these Bills were called on. I thank members for their indulgence on my coming late to the chamber. Mr Speaker, this is the second time this year, in effect, that the Assembly has considered the issues that Mr Stanhope raises in these amendments. Members will recall that the Government brought to the chamber earlier this year its fine default package. That package was considered in June of this year. In considering the amendments that the Government made to a number of Bills to effect a much more comprehensive range of options for people who were convicted of offences and who had to pay fines, the Assembly supported a range of measures.
At that time Mr Stanhope put forward some amendments. They came forward very late in the day in the debate on the package of government Bills. Members will recall that I urged the Assembly not to support those amendments at the time because, I argued, the issues had not been well thought through, that the cost implications of the measures had not been adequately put forward and that as a result we foresaw a series of problems with the arrangements.