Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4245 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
the Government's approach in relation to this matter. The process in the lead-up to the legislative changes which will be dealt with this evening has been, I think, a fairly sorry period.
MR HUMPHRIES (Treasurer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Community Safety) (1.12 am), in reply: In closing this debate, I will make a few points about some issues that have been raised in the course of the debate. I commence with the point about the Government rushing the passage of the legislation. Mr Speaker, the process of reforming criminal injuries compensation in the ACT is one that this Government has had in train for nearly 21/2 years. In July 1997, we issued a discussion paper in which we outlined the thrust of the reforms that we proposed to make. We announced in the budget brought down on 23 June 1998 that we proposed to legislate to change the criminal injuries compensation scheme and we announced the details of that. On 26 November 1998, more than a year ago, we introduced the Bill that is now before the house.
We have had the Bill itself for more than a year and we have had the clear indications of where the process was heading for nearly 21/2 years and we are told that we are rushing the process. If that is rushing the process, I would hate to see what going slowly might add up to. Mr Speaker, this process has been exhaustively consulted about and exhaustively discussed. I have had numerous representations from and discussions with a whole range of players in this field. I think that it is time to make a decision about the legislation.
Mr Stanhope: Why is VOCAL outraged, Attorney?
MR HUMPHRIES: I do not know, Mr Stanhope. As Mr Hargreaves explained when he got up to speak, VOCAL originally supported these proposals. VOCAL appeared on a working party.
Mr Stanhope: They do not now. Do you think that they are outraged because you misrepresented them?
MR HUMPHRIES: No, that is not the case. VOCAL were represented on a working party which worked with the Government and the representatives of other stakeholders and determined that these reforms were appropriate. Apparently, VOCAL have had a change of view from the one put forward in the working party. I am afraid that that is unfortunate, but we believe that we should proceed with the thrust of the recommendations made originally by the working party of which VOCAL was a member.
Mr Speaker, we are told that more time is needed at this point to consider some of the issues which have been given rise to - for example, the amendments which have come forward. Why? The fact is that the Government's position in this matter, which is what people were supposedly waiting for with the government response to the committee report of earlier this year, is a position which has changed very little from the earlier position it took on the legislation. In fact, the Government's position has changed quite minimally indeed. So, given that the Government is basically proceeding with the