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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3869 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

(c) the person has satisfactorily completed adequate training to exercise the powers of an authorised person proposed to be given to the person.".

The amendment is to provide that the authority require a person actually to have specified criteria before appointment as an authorised person.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 20 to 44, by leave, taken together and agreed to.

Clause 45

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (4.28): I move:

Page 28, line 19, subclause (3), omit the subclause.

I speak in a general context to the amendments that I have circulated, to save time, so that members can understand that the objective of the amendments is not to weaken the effect of the proposed laws dealing with drivers who commit offences. Nor is it intended to limit the options available to courts. It is to do the opposite. These amendments are entirely designed to protect freedom of the courts to dispense justice in individual cases. The amendments do nothing more than move a small number of provisions in the proposed laws that limit the power of the courts and access by people to the courts.

I believe it is a fundamental right in democracy that people have access to the courts where every individual can test legislation. It is a fundamental right that goes to the separation of powers and our understanding of the separation of powers. The Bill inappropriately overrules aspects of judicial decision-making. The Bill proposes minimum and mandatory forms of punishment in places where the proper approach is to allow the courts to determine the punishment of individual offenders.

As a matter of principle, all forms of minimum or mandatory sentencing or sentencing which is, in effect, determined by the legislature or by the Executive, should be opposed. I argued this at length some two years ago on similar amendments to road traffic legislation.

I also wish to remove clauses that deny citizens the capacity to even apply to a court for a restricted licence. Under the new law, the restricted licence is a special gift of the courts, granted only if a court decides it is appropriate, and always granted on strict conditions. As the restricted licence is a special document granted by the courts, the right to apply for one should not be denied by legislation. That is the court's decision. The Bill contemplates that the courts have the capacity to relieve a disqualification period if they are convinced that the circumstances of an offender have changed. This relief is unlikely ever to be granted lightly.

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