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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4244 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

The frailty in the Government's position is that they have the option open to them to do something about it under existing legislation. I remember the Minister saying before the last election that he was going to force banks to increase security by passing legislation, if he was given an opportunity to do so. There is no need to do that. The Minister and his colleagues could have arranged quite easily for occupational health and safety inspectors, had they been adequately resourced - it appears that they were not - to go into banks across the ACT and, where there were security inadequacies which might affect the workplace safety arrangements for employees, do something about it. I seem to recall that when this was suggested to the Minister some time ago - again, before the last election - he said, "No, that applies only to the employees". Of course, the Minister did not understand the Act appropriately because it applies to third parties, too, as has been proven by the recent coronial inquiry into the tragic death associated with the implosion of the old Royal Canberra Hospital.

Mr Speaker, there have been plenty of things that the Government could have done to improve safety for third parties at premises around the ACT and there has been no activity at all in this regard. The Government has only been interested in attacking the victims and attacking the criminal injuries compensation system which is in place, with a view to singling out certain groups of people - again, young people who frequent bars and others who have received benefits - and disadvantaging them. Of course the magistrates will have different perceptions about the awards to be applied in particular cases and there will be differences, but I do not see it as fair to ridicule the awards made in respect of criminal injuries cases as a means of securing change. It strikes me that there may be a case for change.

Mr Stanhope made the point earlier that people need to think about this matter a little more and get their head around all of the issues. I have the suspicion that we will go away from debating this legislation this evening with an inequitable arrangement whereby some classes of people will be still covered by criminal injuries compensation and other classes of people will be left out. That would be, in my view, a regrettable outcome. Much of this may have been resolved if members in this place had been given time adequately to consider the Bill. I know that the Minister has said that the Bill has been around for a long time, but there are amendments around this evening which ought to be given consideration in the broader community.

I know that there is concern in the community now, concern which has been heightened in the last couple of days, about the Government's approach to this matter. I had hoped that the Government would see reason, but it seems that the Government has the numbers for whatever scheme will be decided upon this evening and it will be just rammed through. I listened to the ABC yesterday morning and I could detect that a deal had already been done in relation to certain classes who might be affected in the future by the criminal injuries compensation legislation. If it is a deal that, for example, leaves police and certain other classes of people in the system and excludes another range of persons from the system, then it will discredit the whole process. I do not think it will do much good for those people left in the system, either, because they will be seen to have received some sort of favourable treatment. Mr Speaker, I am highly sceptical of

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