Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 6 Hansard (22 June) . . Page.. 1624 ..
MR WOOD (11.52): Mr Speaker, after protracted debate, after extended debate, this Bill in its new form has general acceptance in the community. I believe it is a progressive move enhancing the legislation that we have in this most difficult area. We have had some debate today about the continuing refinement of this Bill as we have to meet the deadline imposed by the sunset clause in the current legislation. I can tell Mr Moore that, with the community, I will continue to debate these issues and to listen to the community, and it is quite possible that further amendments to this legislation could be brought forward. I had some contact last week from a group with some concern, but that contact was a little late to allow me to examine the issues and to consider whether any amendments needed to be brought forward. Indeed, some of their points were discussed at a recent meeting convened by the Minister.
I note in the speech Mr Moore circulated that he is not entirely happy with his own Bill. I quote from part of that speech:
... there are some disappointments for the Government. In removing the preventive detention provisions, the Government is concerned that the community will be denied access to a last resort where a person who is likely to cause harm to others cannot be detained under the provisions for involuntary treatment or care
That is the reason there was a protracted debate on this Bill. That is the reason it was drawn out to the very deadline imposed by the sunset clause. Mr Moore introduced a form of this Bill in November or December last year, but the Assembly declined to deal with it because of the difficult issues and because of the immediate concern in the community about the Bill. Those concerns were very much about that passage I read out.
A little while ago in this chamber, in trying to pass the buck back to the Opposition in relation to the adjournment motion, Mr Moore said that this Bill had come in so late because of the very detailed consultations. It was Mr Moore who imposed that extended debate. It was Mr Moore who disregarded significant views in the community about the Bill and had to go back and think again. That is what has happened.
Mr Moore: You know that is not true. I voluntarily went back. I voluntarily put it out to the community.
MR WOOD: Yes, I note that, but the passage I quoted indicates what your preference was. If we had held to the views expressed in that long period up to the introduction of the Bill late last year, we would not have had this delay and we would not have had this argument. Mr Moore remembers the round table convened two or three months ago. It was very effective. He will remember the total lack of support for these last resort measures that came out of that meeting, not only from mental health consumers and their representatives but also from the most senior people in this town responsible for the administration and the application of the law. Now the legislation is back on track. I was a bit perturbed when Mr Moore tried to blame the Opposition for the problem he encountered today.
Mr Moore: And I will try again.