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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 6 Hansard (22 June) . . Page.. 1625 ..

MR WOOD: And he will try again to blame the Opposition, but without foundation. The reason this legislation has come forward so late in the piece is your first refusal to listen to the community. Now we have a Bill that is broadly acceptable. There will still be some refinement of various points. There always will be in this most difficult area. There will always be more work to do, always more arguments to settle and always new techniques to incorporate, to understand and to accommodate through legislation. But for today we support this Bill and we wish it a speedy passage through the Assembly.

MR RUGENDYKE (11.58): I rise in support of this new mental health legislation. As has been said, it has been the subject of wide consultation. Consensus has been reached on almost all issues, although there are some contentious issues within the Bill. I note with interest that at the last round table meeting a roomful of people interested in this issue agreed that there be a review of the legislation after five years. I think that is a good move. I believe that this mental health legislation will be very beneficial to the ACT community, particularly to people with mental illness. I support the legislation and commend the Bill to the Assembly.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer)(11.59): Mr Speaker, I want to make a few comments about these two Bills. First of all, at a purely technical level, I have circulated two amendments to the Crimes (Amendment) Bill of a fairly technical nature dealing with matters which were picked up in further revision of the legislation. I will deal with those when we come to the detail stage of that Bill.

Mr Speaker, I want to touch on the general issues that are inherent in the reworking of the Mental Health (Treatment and Care)(Amendment) Bill and make some points to members of this place. I particularly want to address some points to members of this place who have expressed concern about the social justice element of legislation of this kind. The history of mental health legislation is a very long one, and members of this place who have been here for a long time will recall the long and tortuous path that we have travelled to reform mental health legislation and services in this Territory over the last few years. In recent times, however, the issue has focused on the legislation's impacts on those with a mental dysfunction and the extent to which those people are properly catered for both in terms of legislative power, orders that might be made in respect of them and so on and in terms of services available for them.

I think we would all acknowledge that in the past there have been serious shortcomings in the provisions in both respects for such people. The Government foreshadowed the establishment of a secure mental health facility in order to be able to deal with a number of people whose needs simply are not catered for at the present time by our present range of facilities within the ACT. That remains a commitment of the ACT Government, although there are many issues and problems surrounding the progress of that particular proposal.

The other issue here, however, is the question of legislative power in respect of these matters. I want to make a point for Ms Tucker's benefit. I am not sure whether she is listening. There is an important point that members need to be aware of, and I hope that Ms Tucker in particular will take this particular point on board. I know members have

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