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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (16 November) . . Page.. 3531 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

a government to enact by subordinate legislation; but this is a case in which the subclause appears to be designed to not read in such a way that would protect the general constitutional position that a tax should be levied only by parliament.

I think this is a particular case of bad legislation being introduced by the Government. I wonder whether the Minister is aware of the fact that he is introducing a Bill which, if enacted, would allow the levy of a tax by subordinate legislation. I think it is something that the Minister needs to have another look at before he brings the Bill forward for debate.

I also have difficulty with clause 156. It allows the Road Transport Authority to exercise a discretion if it believes that a certain state of affairs exists. That is quite out of step with other legislation, where you have to "believe on reasonable grounds", not just "believe". The Road Transport Authority can "believe" anything. But, if there are not reasonable grounds for his assumption of a certain state of affairs, then this provision allows him too much latitude.

In clause 209, subclause (2), it is provided that the Minister may cancel the approval of an insurer as an authorised agent "for any reason the Minister considers appropriate". We are advised that that is an extraordinarily wide power. For any reason that the Minister thinks appropriate, he can cancel the approval of an insurer. It appears to place the personal whim of the Minister above the notion that administrative powers must be exercised according to law. We could not see any justification for the inclusion of those words, and we suggest the Minister have another look at it.

Another matter of some concern is clause 189. Under clause 189 the driver, or other person, of a vehicle involved in a motor vehicle accident is required to give an authorised insurer or the nominal defendant notice of matters such as the circumstances of the accident. This document, once produced, is a document that would be of interest to persons who might wish to sue that driver or other person. But under clause 189, subclause (6), such matters are not subject to discovery and are not admissible as evidence in a legal action, except for a prosecution for failure to give the notice.

What is the purpose of the secrecy about this document? We were advised that the object would appear to be to protect the authorised insurer or the nominal defendant. What other purpose could it have? It would restrict the ability of any party to a legal action to gain access to evidence that might be of critical significance to the ability of the party to pursue that action, and there appears no reason for it. There is no issue of any confidential communication being revealed. There appears to be no case for non-disclosure according to the common law approach. So, the Minister might ask why the secrecy in connection with such a document, when it removes, from a citizen, vital evidence that might be needed in pursuing a case under the law.

Mr Speaker, it was not adequate simply to table this, and leave it lie. I think there are some matters arising from this report that need to be brought forcibly to the Minister's attention, and they are matters that need to be addressed before this place adopts that

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