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

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (21 April) . . Page.. 1036 ..

MR BERRY (11.16): Mr Speaker, I heard what the Attorney had to say. This is very clear. The letters that Mr Humphries referred to were a fishing expedition to see whether Labor would agree with him to retrospectively patch up the legislation which had been criticised by the coroner. Labor told him they would, and then he did nothing. That is the reason why the legislation has been so delayed and is here today.

Mr Humphries made the accusation that I had some people in mind and I was widening the net to capture some of those people. I have nobody in mind, Mr Humphries, and I have said that repeatedly. I have nothing to say about what might come out of the coronial inquiry. But if what you were saying is true, then it is true also that your inaction was intended to narrow the net. I would be a little bit careful about drawing those conclusions, given your behaviour.

Mr Wood: What was that?

MR BERRY: His inactivity, in not doing anything with the legislation when it was first brought to his attention, had the effect of narrowing the net. If what you say about me has any element of truth, there is a stronger element of truth about your inactivity - that is, you intended to narrow the net by doing nothing. I have nobody in mind in relation to this matter, but I do criticise the Attorney-General for doing nothing. I have him in mind in relation to this, because his performance has been below par, below standard.

I was reminded by my colleague Mr Quinlan that the law is an ass if people can escape it by these sorts of means. It was never intended in the Occupational Health and Safety Act - Mr Moore draws to our attention that it is about 10 years ago that that Act was introduced in this parliament - that anybody would escape the net because of a long coronial inquiry. Indeed, the issue is only an issue because the Magistrates Court Act has a provision in it in relation to time limits and the Occupational Health and Safety Act does not.

What I seek to do is repair that oversight in the Occupational Health and Safety Act and then to put it beyond doubt that the intention of this procedural matter - and I accept that there is an argument about what is procedural and what is not - and of the amendments before the Assembly today is to ensure that the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Dangerous Goods Act have application to the events which are the subject of the inquiry but are not ruled out because of the length of the inquiry. It is also unfair law if learned lawyers are able to exploit time limits in order that their clients may escape notice under the law.

Mr Humphries: It is the clients who are using it, not the lawyers.

MR BERRY: Mr Humphries advises that it is the clients using it and not the lawyers, but I am sure that it would be on advice. I am sure that the clients would be acting on advice. These are straightforward matters. All of the issues are clear to everybody. The amendment which we are now debating puts beyond doubt the intention of this Assembly. If this amendment is not carried, there are still cases which could occur under the legislation but, as recommended by Parliamentary Counsel, this is a prudent move to ensure that there are no future challenges to our intention or the wording of the legislation. I urge members to support the amendment.

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