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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 3446 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

Recommendation No. 4 requires that the Chief Magistrate develop a training program in Children's Court affairs for all of the magistrates. The committee did not make a criticism of the training which is currently provided for magistrates. However, there did not appear to be any specific programs in place. The committee did not make a comment regarding this practice in general. However, it did find this situation unacceptable in regard to the Children's Court and felt that it was important that this be addressed as soon as possible.

The final recommendation calls for certain data and performance information on Children's Court matters in the form of an annual report. The committee was interested in testing anecdotal complaints about court delays and the number of magistrates which were hearing each case. However, it was unable to do so as no data was available. The committee believes that this data would be of benefit to the wider community and needs to be more easily accessible. I do not believe that the production of this report would be particularly onerous for those involved, nor should it prove unnecessarily complex.

Mr Speaker, there are many benefits for our young people and the community as a whole in having this magistrate, and I give my support to amending my Bill to include the appropriate recommendations from this report. I would like to quote from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires that:

... in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration.

I believe that my legislation and this report reinforce that, Mr Speaker, and I hope that members will see fit to support it.

I have to say, in summary, that I was a little disappointed with the way the dissenting report came about. This report was agreed to in principle, with a number of recommendations. However, after a lengthy period of time, we were advised that the government member on the committee was to put in a dissenting report. I have to say that the other members of the committee were very disappointed with the way that it was handled.

If that is going to continue in future, perhaps there really is not any need for a government appointment to these committees. We can just send a report to the Government and they can let us know what they think when they are replying. The way that this matter was handled was very disappointing. Convention in this place in the time that I have been here is that you try as hard as possible to find some sort of common ground. The other three members of the committee thought we had found that, but it appears that the government member had got his riding instructions wrong.

Debate (on motion by Mr Humphries) adjourned.

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