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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 3302 ..

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (4.45), in reply: I thank members for their comments. Yes, there has been a very extensive effort in terms of consultation, and rightly so. The Bill has been in the pipeline for some 21/2 years. It came about as a result of considerable concerns being expressed about the operation of the Children's Services Act, an Act which certainly advanced a number of things but, quite clearly, was in need of review. There was extensive community consultation; in fact, there were some 250 pages of consultation. I have a copy of the document here. It was put on the Internet and there were over 3,300 hits. Family Services put it out to numerous agencies and there was a good consultation process, as Mr Wood made reference to. We have ended up with this Bill as the final product.

The comments of members generally have been quite positive, which is exactly what I would have hoped for. I will make a few comments initially in relation to the remarks by individual members and then make some more generic comments by way of summing up the debate at the in-principle stage.

I thank Mr Rugendyke for his comments. Mr Rugendyke worked very hard on this Bill. It is about something that is very dear to his heart and he made a number of very helpful suggestions on how to improve what I think was already a pretty good Bill. He has circulated a number of amendments in relation to the Children's Court magistrate which are consistent with other legislation which has been introduced to rectify some problems there. He has also circulated a number of amendments in relation to carers. I indicate at this stage that the Government is supportive of his amendments and I thank him for them.

Also, I thank Mr Rugendyke for thanking the people involved in the drafting of this legislation. That was a nice gesture but a very important one, given that the process took 21/2 years and a lot of work was put into it by a lot of people, including, obviously, the parliamentary counsel. I reiterate what Mr Rugendyke said and thank the people he has named. I will name a few others. I mention Jill Farrelly in relation to the child-care arrangements. I see that everyone is happy with those, which is excellent. Also, I mention Chris Healy and the Family Services managers in relation to their efforts. Mr Rugendyke has already mentioned Stephen Goggs, who spent an inordinate amount of time on this Bill, and I thank him for that.

I was interested to hear Mr Kaine's comments. I appreciate his support for the Bill and the reasons for it. I noted his comments in terms of the difficulty in reading the Bill. Mr Kaine is a very good wordsmith. After his speech I made a few inquiries in relation to some of the wording. Legal Bills can be difficult at times. I understand that some of it relates to a new style of drafting. Also, it was a Bill on which there was about 21/2 years of consultation with various groups and the groups which will have to interpret it had a very big say on it and, fundamentally, are very happy with it. I refer to groups such as the police, the magistrates, the carers, and the workers in government departments who have responsibility for these areas.

Mr Kaine referred to the Bill as being a somewhat overweight Bill with an interesting drafting style. I wish to comment on a couple of the things he said. In relation to subsection 107(6), the 60-hour week provision was lifted directly from the old Children's Services Act and is, I think, consistent with a number of other provisions. It

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