Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (25 March) . . Page.. 832 ..

MR SPEAKER: Is it the wish of the Assembly to debate this order of the day concurrently with the Courts and Tribunals (Audio Visual and Audio Linking) Bill 1999? There being no objection, that course will be followed. I remind members that in debating order of the day No. 2 they may also address their remarks to order of the day No. 3.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (11.50): The Labor Party is generally supportive of both of these Bills, the Courts and Tribunals (Audio Visual and Audio Linking) Bill and the Evidence (Amendment) Bill. We believe that it is appropriate that provision be made to the greatest extent possible for the use of audiovisual links in the taking of evidence in our courts. It is appropriate that we utilise the technology that is available to us, as I said, to the greatest extent possible. This legislation enables that across a wide range of Acts - all those pieces of legislation that we have within the Territory that have been identified as possibly benefiting from the use of audiovisual links - the Coroners Act, the Discrimination Act and the Magistrates Court Act, and a range of other pieces of legislation. As I have said, it seems to me just commonsense that we do utilise the technologies that are available and that we do put in place procedures that do allow us to do so for the purposes of convenience and cost.

We do have major problems within our court system - just as every court system in Australia, if not in the Western world, has - in dispensing with the business of the courts. It is time consuming, it is expensive, it is frustrating and it is an issue that all governments have been grappling with for decades. I accept and acknowledge that the use of this sort of technology is a very worthwhile way of dealing with some of those issues that go to the cost of justice and delays in justice, and I commend the Minister for bringing the legislation forward.

There are just two issues and two proposed amendments that I foreshadow I will move. I will just indicate the reservations we have. I believe that they are not significant reservations. The proposals that we would put to amend the Bills are not all that significant in terms of the impact and operation of the legislation. The Labor Party has decided, however, that there are instances in relation to a couple of processes or procedures where the legislation might be improved. They go to the circumstance in which a person in remand seeking to have their bail reviewed might wish to appear in person before a magistrate to plead their case. I do understand the argument that may be put that the capacity exists for a magistrate to make a direction that remandees seeking bail do have available to them that opportunity.

The Labor Party is concerned that there be no doubt that a remandee who might wish, for whatever purpose, to appear in person before a magistrate to plead his case for a review is under no misunderstanding or misapprehension that he has that right. We will be proposing an amendment that simply puts it beyond doubt that a remandee in those circumstances does have that discretion. The advice that I have been given is that most remandees would not choose to exercise this discretion, that they would be more than content to remain at the Remand Centre whilst bail applications are reviewed. The suggestion has been put to me by people from whom I take advice in these matters that it is a provision that perhaps would not be used very often, that remandees would be content to use the video link.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .