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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 3293 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

On the face of it, it sounds okay; but there are two things that I find disconcerting about it. First of all, "despite" is not the correct word. "Notwithstanding" probably is, but you cannot argue that "notwithstanding" and "despite" mean the same thing. They do not. But, more importantly, what is the value of an order that imposes an obligation on somebody who has done a runner? That is what that says; if you cannot find him, impose an order on him. I would have to ask the question: What benefit does the child or the young person get from that? It is quite obscure to me.

Those are just examples of the sorts of things that I referred to earlier when I said that I believe that the Bill is sometimes confused. It is certainly expressed in poor English. It has conditions in it which I believe are unacceptable and I believe that, if it is passed today, somebody will have a lot of work to do to turn it into a document that one can read and understand what it is intended to say.

Mr Speaker, I said that I agree in principle with the purposes for which the Minister brings the Bill forward, and I do. I think it is a worthy Bill. I do not believe that the comments that I have made are niggling. I think that they are significant and that somebody needs to have another look at the Bill and correct it, at least in a number of places. I hope that the Minister will take my remarks as seriously and in the same vein as I made them. The Bill is badly drafted. It imposes complex mechanisms that can and should be simplified. The best thing that could happen to it, I think, would be for the Minister to send it back and make it less tortuous, more genuinely user-friendly and more simple in its implementation, because as the Bill stands it presents a nightmare, no less for those it is intended to protect than for those who will have to give effect to it.

MS TUCKER (4.13): The Greens also will be supporting this Bill in principle, although we will be moving amendments. In volume 23 of the British Journal of Social Work, academics Robert Harris and Noel Timms analysed revisions of British legislation affecting children's services in the early 1990s. They wrote that this legislation:

...constitutes a rule book for a discretion-laden game played many times a day in agencies and courts throughout the land.


In this sense new legislation changes practice only so far. Players, resources, customs and cultures, common sense, theory, and the nature of the problems to be solved did not change radically on implementation day, and these pre-existing realities help construct the applied "meaning" of the legislation itself. Hence context is not a backdrop but a dynamic and interactive process. While it is true that new rules change crucial aspects of the game ... the new legislation remains situated in a social context strikingly similar to the one which pre-existed.

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