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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (17 February) . . Page.. 271 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

However, the dangers in respect of a small court system have been well articulated. I in particular want to caution members about the problem that may arise if a magistrate is appointed for three years and appears not to be working well in that particular position. There is a real concern about that. It is a concern which I understand has been shared by the Chief Magistrate. It is a concern which I am concerned members of this place appear to be passing over fairly glibly, and it is a matter that we are unlikely to be able to revisit in an express way. If, for argument's sake, the magistrate appointed to be the Children's Court specialist magistrate does not work out particularly well in that position, we are hardly likely to come back and in a debate specifically refer to that experience as a basis for changing the arrangements that will be built into this legislation after this Bill passes tonight.

Mr Speaker, I put on record the Government's concern about that. It may be that this works very well indeed, and I sincerely hope that it does work very well, but I simply put it to members that in other circumstances they would be expressing great concerns about this arrangement. We have the court saying that it is concerned about the proposals in this Bill. We have a process for consideration of these issues which is being truncated, something which members would normally also be shrieking about, yet we are proposing to pass this Bill tonight with relatively little debate, given the time of day at which we are considering it. We may act in haste but we will have a chance to repent at leisure. That is the danger that we face in this debate.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (6.02): And that is why, Mr Speaker, I move:

That the debate be now adjourned.

Question resolved in the negative.

MR KAINE (6.02): I must say that I have some sympathy for the Attorney-General's view. I was a bit surprised when this Bill appeared on the notice paper, for the reason that I could not recall the Government responding to the committee's report. However, there is a little bit of a difference in this case. The committee's report had a dissenting report attached to it, and I am absolutely confident that that dissenting report represented the Government's view. It is not as though we do not know what the Government's view is. I suppose the Government would argue that the dissenting report was the view of a member of the committee and not the Government, but we know from other experiences that that is not the case. While under other circumstances I would agree with the Attorney-General, in this case I cannot.

Mr Humphries: Mr Speaker, I have to rise on a point of order in defence of Mr Hird. I am the Minister responsible in the Government for this legislation. I can advise the Assembly that I did not see the report of this committee before it was handed out. Mr Kaine is asserting fairly unequivocally that Mr Hird, as the government member on that committee, has breached standing orders by showing the contents of the report to a member outside the committee before the deliberations were concluded. Mr Hird may have a different view about this, but I think in his absence we should not accuse him of breaching standing orders in that way. I would ask Mr Kaine not to press that allegation.

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