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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (17 February) . . Page.. 274 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

respond in a positive way. Indeed, I have been involved in a number of situations where I have sought to ensure that we make a positive response. In other words, we take Assembly committee reports very seriously.

The notion that a magistrate be designated as the ACT Children's Court magistrate for three years seems to me to have some initial merit. I have been a supporter of the concept, but we do not - - -

Mr Wood: There is no problem. What is the problem?

MR MOORE: You know as well as I do, Mr Wood, that we very rarely deal with things in black and white. Before we make decisions in this place we almost always do a cost-benefit analysis. What seems to be a good idea sometimes needs some compromise to ensure that the idea is carried through to its best. The Government is asking for an extra month not just because members of the Government need to consider this as part of our normal consideration process but also because we want to ensure that the department can advise us of their concerns about the committee's report and about what we should do about them.

There is no doubt that when we are looking at the notion of a children's magistrate we are interested in the sort of emphasis shown by the committee in the selection criteria for such a magistrate - an interest in children's issues and the ability to communicate with children; a knowledge of child development, indigenous culture, juvenile justice procedure and the structural causes of offending; an understanding of children's rights; and a knowledge of international best practice in relation to children and the courts. I have to ask: Do we have a magistrate who meets those criteria at the moment?

Mr Stanhope: Let us hope so.

MR MOORE: Mr Stanhope interjects, "Let us hope so". Let us just pass this legislation and hope that it will be all right. Let us not wait the extra month. Let us not give the Government the opportunity to ascertain whether that is the case or whether we would need to employ somebody and explain to this Assembly when we are likely to appoint another magistrate and how we are going to achieve that. Let us not worry about the cost of it. We will just get the money from somewhere else, because that is an appropriate approach. After all, that will be the Government's concern, not ours. Let us just take the irresponsible way. That is the sort of approach you can continue to take. It is the sort of approach that I described earlier today as short sighted. It is the sort of approach that has the scent of political expediency about it. I understand that, and I understand why it is that you are going for political expediency at the moment.

Mr Stanhope: Tell us, Minister, whether you think it is a good idea.

MR MOORE: Mr Stanhope interjects, "Tell us, Minister, whether you think it is a good idea". I have already told you, Mr Stanhope. You are not listening. I have already told you that conceptually I think it is a good idea to have a children's magistrate.

Mr Stanhope: It is a good idea but none of our magistrates are good enough to do the job is what I think you have said, in summary.

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