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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3886 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

issue; he would not be asked to assess the individual claims or individual circumstances of particular cases; he would simply be told.

I am concerned that there is perhaps a view within the Magistrates Court that the magistrate wants to be told what to do, that he actually does not want an opportunity to exercise a discretion or any independence. That is a worry for me in terms of the attitude that apparently some of our magistrates are taking to their responsibilities.

It is vital that magistrates exercise their discretion. I would hope that we, in choosing whom to appoint as magistrates, take those sorts of characteristics or strengths into account when selecting whom it is that we appoint. These are people of significant training, with the capacity to exercise judgment, and they are people who will exercise the discretions which traditionally are placed in judicial officers. That is an aspect about this removal of discretion that I do find concerning.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (5.38): Yet again, the Government will oppose the amendment. During the debate and afterwards, Mr. Hargreaves called me a hypocrite, which is a word we do not normally allow in this place. I am not going to ask him to withdraw it.


MR SMYTH: Well, I actually do not care because - - -

Mr Hargreaves: You ask the Minister to be quiet and I will do just that, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Do you withdraw it?

Mr Hargreaves: Unreservedly, because I would never have anybody in the whole world think this Minister was a hypocrite.

MR SPEAKER: Sit down.

MR SMYTH: It would be hypocrisy on my part not to stand up and say that I believe Mr Hargreaves is wrong. He said that the Government does not have a coherent argument. He accuses us of just trotting out drivel. The basis of his argument was that we are uncaring and this is drivel. He said we should not get emotive about this. The reality is we should actually get emotive about this because this is about human life.

I was not going to make reference to a car accident that I had, but Mr Rugendyke brought it up, so I simply say that I was run off the road by a drink-driver. I spent 10 days in intensive care at Mildura Base Hospital. My wife, who was pregnant at that time with twins, had to come down and spend 10 days with me. We were lucky that fairly quickly we knew the outcome would be okay. I then was brought back to Woden Valley Hospital where I spent two months in Ward 3A and then Ward 5B. I then spent some 18 months between physiotherapy at outpatients at Woden Valley Hospital and several gyms around the ACT getting fit - learning how to walk and getting fit again.

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