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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (21 April) . . Page.. 1037 ..

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.21): Mr Berry argued that this legislation was primarily about repairing an oversight. That is why we did not oppose the legislation in principle. It is perfectly reasonable to repair an oversight for the future. If we find a problem with the legislation, it is entirely appropriate to repair the legislation for the future. Therefore, it seems to me that the appropriate course of action here is not to introduce this precedent, the first in 10 years in this Assembly, a precedent that will undermine the rights of somebody under the law.

That is highlighted by another comment made by Mr Berry that lawyers will exploit time limits. It depends how you use the word "exploit" and how lawyers do. Lawyers will use the law in whatever way they can to protect the rights of their clients. It is their responsibility to do that very thing. I do not think it is reasonable to say they will exploit the legislation for this reason. If there is a problem with the legislation, then we have the responsibility to change the legislation. That is what we agreed to do when we agreed to this legislation in principle. That will do it prospectively.

This amendment creates the retrospectivity that has the potential to catch three or four people who today, at this very minute, and up until this amendment is gazetted, have no liability under law. If we pass this amendment and retrospectively change a piece of legislation, we will be pointing the finger at people who at this minute have no liability under law and saying, "Yes, you will have liability under the law". That is what is wrong with retrospectivity.

Ms Carnell: And at some low-level public servants.

MR MOORE: The Chief Minister also indicates - she can have a say if she likes - that there is the potential for this legislation to involve some relatively low-level public servants who at this minute under the law have no potential liability. The law had a time limit and that time limit expired.

Mr Wood: Because of him.

MR MOORE: It may well have been. I am not getting into a debate about whether it was because of Mr Humphries or not. That is a second issue which he has dealt with. Whatever the case, at this stage we are at that situation. Think of the long-term consequences. Think of the precedent set. If we set this precedent, it will mean that we can let laws go through this Assembly which result in somebody who had no liability under the law for something they had done in the past when it was legal then incurring a legal liability.

Mr Wood: Were they liable at one stage?

MR MOORE: Yes, they were liable at one stage. But we have legislation in this place and they passed beyond it.

Mr Wood: Tell Mr Humphries that.

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