Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 3470 ..
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, not true. There is no justification in this. If we wanted to proceed on those particular sites we could simply pick sites that we might choose to use. We have done a study. The study has posed a number of questions. Those questions are out for public discussion. The discussion, I think, has been quite vigorous so far. When we get all the responses to our study we will consider the matter further. The Government has made no firm decision on what sites should or should not go ahead. We are interested in the opinions of the community. We have gone out there and sought their opinion. We are consulting with them, and we will continue to do so.
MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, my question is to Mr Humphries. It concerns the workings of the Discrimination Tribunal. Will Mr Humphries tell the Assembly, first, what system is in place to ensure that applications to the Discrimination Tribunal are dealt with in a timely and effective manner? Secondly, can he assure us that the tribunal is sufficiently resourced to avoid hearing delays?
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I thank Mr Wood for that question. I am aware that there were, as of a couple of months ago, a number of matters which were coming to the tribunal for decision which had not yet been decided by the tribunal. I think from memory there were also some cases which had been heard by the tribunal but where there had not been a judgment delivered. Those sorts of issues always give me concerns. I am not any less concerned about a situation in a tribunal matter than I am about a situation, for example, in the Supreme Court with a hearing of a criminal matter or a major civil matter. Delays in the system are a concern and these are matters that I do take up regularly from time to time with the necessary heads of court when those problems present themselves in a particularly material way. I have discussed such matters with the relevant heads of court at appropriate times.
I am aware of the problems of the Discrimination Tribunal. I think at my last meeting with the Chief Magistrate some discussion of that matter took place; if not at that meeting then the previous meeting.
To come to the second part of Mr Wood's question, I do not believe there is a question of inadequate resources available to the court because the ACT Government saw fit only a few months ago to augment the resources of the court by creating an eighth full-time magistrate. More recently than that, we appointed a further special magistrate in the form of the new president of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Resources are being progressively increased to the court over a period of time. We have also begun the process of selecting a new court administrator who will be able to better utilise the resources of the Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court to achieve important goals with respect to the management of the courts' matters.