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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4261 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

committee who made this recommendation, to edge us slightly closer to a humane and purposeful assistance scheme and support this amendment.

MR HUMPHRIES (Treasurer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Community Safety) (2.08 am): Mr Speaker, this is one of a number of amendments tonight which have the effect of winding back the nature of the changes put forward by the Government's legislation. I want to remind members why we have urged members to reconsider the approach that has been suggested. I quote again. Perhaps members were not present the first time that I read this out. Mr Kaine in particular asked why we were banning the recommendations of the committee. The reason is not how much less do we save on this scheme; but how much more it costs us to have this scheme in operation. (Quorum formed) Mr Speaker, as I was saying, members have asked the question, "Why are we not adopting the committee's recommendations?". It is very simple. We have put forward this scheme to be able to reduce the cost of criminal injuries compensation in order to fund a victims assistance scheme. We need to make savings to do that.

The result of the committee's recommendations is that in each of the first two years of the changes we would be spending in the order of $6m to $7m more per year to deliver the scheme. In other words, the total cost would rise from around $6.3m in 1998-99 to between $10 and $13m per year. It would be higher than the current level of expenditure and more than twice the level of expenditure under the Government's proposals. That is why we have urged members to accept that there has to be some containment of the costs of this scheme. It would be better for the Government to abandon these reforms altogether and go back to the original criminal injuries compensation scheme - forget about a victims assistance scheme altogether - than it would be to adopt the recommendations made here for changes to the proposals of the Government.

So the only financially responsible approach here is to take one approach or the other. You either take the Government's approach or you stay with the present system. Some hybrid of the two might sound like a nice compromise, but the result is that you end up with a much greater cost. The amendment here of Ms Tucker's is of that nature. We are again pushing the line out. We are going to now include a victim's incapacity to perform unpaid domestic work and child care. It sounds nice in theory, but it is one of a number of exceptions we could make to the rules and we could push them out further and further and further. I simply ask members to accept that some limits, some lines, should be drawn around that. It might be entirely arbitrary where it gets drawn, but it is important to contain it in some way. I ask that this amendment and other amendments of this kind be rejected.

MR KAINE (2.12 am): Mr Speaker, the Minister's explanation rings pretty hollow, because one of the recommendations of the committee was that the financial compensation for the police should be the responsibility of the AFP; in other words, take the AFP out of this system, except as a last resort. That is what we recommended, and that is where a lot of the cost comes from. But what have you done? With Mr Rugendyke's assistance you have not only put the police back in, contrary to the recommendation of the committee, but you have given them a higher rate of compensation than anybody else. And you talk about cutting costs!

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