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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (25 March) . . Page.. 841 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

that it was best that that person appeared remotely - again, a rare occasion, but it could happen. Another example - again not very likely, but possible in a rare case - is where a person has a highly infectious disease. It may not be appropriate for that person to appear in the court live, but they should be capable of being given the chance to appear by audiovisual link.

Mr Speaker, if members are not satisfied with the cases I have given, I ask them to consider the position in other jurisdictions. Most other jurisdictions in Australia have adopted legislation of this kind - - -

Mr Berry: Which ones?

MR HUMPHRIES: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Each of those jurisdictions has preserved the right of the court to make the final decision. Every one of those jurisdictions have preserved the right of the court to have the final say in whether the person appears - every one of them. I have not had time to find out since I saw Mr Stanhope's amendment late last night whether Tasmania and South Australia have taken the same position, so I cannot say to the Assembly that the whole of Australia has taken the position that we are recommending in this Bill. It may be the case; I just do not know at this point.

Mr Speaker, I am sensitive to the needs of people to be able to appear in court and I would wish that they have the right to do so in virtually every case. But I also think it is more than conceivable that on occasions it may be better, in the administration of justice, if the actual right to appear personally there - not, on the scale of human rights, a particularly huge right, with respect; the submissions are still being made on behalf of that person and the person is still speaking directly to the court if they wish to - was not given priority over the rights of others who might be involved in this process, including the courts and other litigants who might appear in the courts.

Mr Speaker, I would ask members to consider whether these amendments are not, in fact, although well-intentioned, necessarily appropriate to ensure that justice is appropriately delivered.

MS TUCKER (12.28): The Greens will be supporting the amendments put up by the Labor Party. I have listened to Mr Humphries' argument. I did check with Mr Moore on whether someone with an infectious disease would be allowed to be exposed to the court and Mr Moore confirmed that the Chief Medical Officer would have the right to intervene, if necessary, in that instance.

The other concerns that Mr Humphries expressed do worry me. He has acknowledged that only a small number of people would be involved in this regard. We know, as it is an issue that is getting increasing publicity, that people with mental health problems will be going through our courts more and more as governments like this Government have, by self-righteous statements, put on the mantle of deinstitutionalisation, but they have not provided for community support to take up where the institutions have left off. So, we are seeing an increasing number of people with mental health problems in our prisons.

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