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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 3292 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

one thing for a Bill to aim to be user friendly, but when it chokes its users with detailed obligations, failure to fulfil any one of which has the potential to bring down an action for the benefit of a child, you have to ask yourself whether there is a better way to achieve an equivalent objective. I believe that a better way could be found and that the Minister should have the job of finding it.

Mr Speaker, to come to some of the examples that I mentioned earlier: I will not bore the Assembly with a complete catalogue of the style aspects of the Bill, which I found to be somewhat disconcerting. I will not list every clause which flags an exception by beginning a sentence with the word "however" or every example of the incorrect placement of the word "only" within a sentence. Those are basic matters of grammar and I found numerous cases of them. To some, these may sound like niggling complaints, but I submit that in a legislative document such as this they are not niggling and they are not minor. The drafters should be able to express a document such as this in correct English at least.

But there are some provisions which I cannot allow to go ahead without specific comment. For example, clause 104 limits the number of community service hours per week to 60. When an adult is required to work that many hours in a week penalty rates apply. To cap at 60 the number of hours for which a young person is required to provide community service without payment is, to me, quite disturbing. That works out at 81/2 hours on every day of the week. Surely the Minister does not intend to expose young persons performing community service to such working conditions, which could easily be described as slavery. It would be so regarded anywhere else in our workplace.

I mentioned poor English. I would like the Minister to have subclause 107(6) rendered into correct English. It is incomprehensible at the moment because it is not written in English. If it gives him problems, I suggest that any English teacher from amongst the many that he employs can show him where the errors are and how to correct them.

I think that clause 155 is a real beauty. It says:

In section 154, it does not matter whether conduct giving rise to the belief that a young person has been, is being or is likely to be, abused or neglected occurred wholly or partly outside the Territory.

Minister, I believe that it does matter in law, so the use of the words "it does not matter" is incorrect. It does indeed matter whether such conduct occurred inside the Territory or outside of it. The question is: Is the assertion made in that clause really what you meant to say? I suspect that it is not.

Subclause 196(3) reads:

Despite subsection (1), the court may make a care and protection order if the person on whom the obligation is proposed to be imposed cannot, after reasonable inquiry, be found.

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