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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 3284 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

particularly so in relation to the coronial inquiry into the fatal implosion of the old Canberra Hospital. That was a disgraceful episode which I think brought the Government into disrepute - - -

MR SPEAKER: Relevance!

MR BERRY: It brought the Government into disrepute - - -

MR SPEAKER: Relevance! Magistrates Court Amendment Bill (No 2)!

MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, the fact that the Government failed to act on this important area of law-making was an indictment of its position in relation to these laws. Mr Speaker, we will be pleased to support this legislation, which will close an unfortunate chapter in the making of legislation in the ACT.

MR HUMPHRIES (Treasurer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Community Safety) (3.40), in reply: Mr Speaker, in closing this debate, I am pleased that Mr Berry is prepared to support the legislation. Of course, with great respect, he has very little choice but to support it because it is almost identical to legislation that he brought forward in this place to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Dangerous Goods Act. But there is a crucial difference between this Bill and the Bill which was ultimately passed by the Assembly to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The difference, Mr Speaker, is that that Bill was made retrospective and this Bill is not.

On the occasion of the last debate about this matter we had a long and rather convoluted argument as to why the traditionally hostile attitude of this place towards adverse retrospectivity, particularly in respect of criminal matters, ought to be suspended in relation to that Bill. In the past we had opposed the idea of criminalising or recriminalising the acts of others after they had committed those acts, whereas on that occasion it was felt appropriately important to suspend that principle and make retrospective the provisions of that piece of legislation. Strangely, today, when exactly the same piece of legislation comes forward, there is no amendment from the Opposition to provide for that retrospectivity.

Mr Berry has repeated the assertion that the Government was inactive; in particular, that I was inactive.

Mr Berry: Incompetent, too. Incompetent.

MR HUMPHRIES: You mentioned the word "inaction" about five times in your speech, Mr Berry. The word you used particularly was "inaction", that there was inaction on the part of the Government when it came to producing the necessary legislation to fix that problem. If that was a problem then, the problem now is that the Opposition is inactive on precisely the same question of retrospectivity that it dined out on just a few short months ago. If it was so vitally important that the Occupational Health and Safety (Amendment) Bill 1999 contain a provision for retrospective operation of the Bill, why does this Bill not also contain the same provision?

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