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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 784 ..

MR BERRY: I seek leave to make a statement in relation to this matter to try to convince my colleague Mr Osborne to reverse his decision.

Leave granted.

MR BERRY: The issues here are quite straightforward. It is not an issue of considering what the courts would do, though they can be of assistance when it comes to guidance of the legislature. It is about this Assembly making a decision in respect of an important matter which faces the ACT community, one that will never be repeated.

Mr Humphries: Why not?

MR BERRY: If you are planning to blow up any more hospitals, Mr Humphries, you had better let us know about it. This incident will never be repeated. The legislation which has been put forward, though, anticipates the possibility of long coronial inquiries in the future. I would like to emphasise the need to resolve this issue today. The arguments will be basically the same in three weeks' time. It is an issue about whether this Assembly is prepared to make a decision about the retrospective elements in relation to procedures which have limited the time available to anybody who may prosecute in the future, rather than the criminal law. This Bill does not alter the punishment. That is an extremely important point to note. It does not alter the punishment. One of my colleagues said to me earlier that the law is an ass if one can escape a criminal conviction as a consequence of an inquiry and a time limit running out, especially when you know about it.

I want to make one other point. I heard the theatre and the lack of substance from Mr Moore and Mr Humphries, but both of those members voted on the Occupational Health and Safety Bill 1989 which did not have any time limit in it. It is merely some unexpected connection whereby the Magistrates Act has provided a time limit but the Occupational Health and Safety Act did not have a time limitation in it. They voted for that legislation in the full expectation that there were no time limitations. So it is curious to me that both of them now protest that the time limitation under the Magistrates Act should not be reversed.

Mr Humphries: Different penalties are involved, Wayne.

MR BERRY: Mr Humphries interjects that different penalties are involved. The penalties are not being changed. The only thing that is being addressed here is the expiry of a time limit. Mr Speaker, the point here is that I think that we can resolve this issue today. The arguments are pretty clear. It is not a question of how the courts would rule. It is a question of this Assembly facing the issue of the failure of the Government to deal with legislation in a proper and timely fashion. The Government clearly intended to do something about it, but changed its mind. It is an indictment of the Government that the Opposition has had to take up this issue and repair the damage.

I will just deal with the penultimate paragraph in your letter of 8 May, Mr Humphries, if anybody needs any more convincing. It reads:

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