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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4283 ..

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (3.27 am): Mr Speaker, I ask for leave to move my amendment No. 6.

Leave granted.

MR STANHOPE: I move amendment No. 6 circulated in my name, which reads as follows:

Page 15, line 3, proposed new subsection 29 (3), after "refuses", insert, "without reasonable excuse,".

This is an extension of the section that we just debated and was just amended to allow some choice of health professional. I will explain this briefly. Subsection (3), which we have just discussed, says that if the primary victim refuses to submit to a requirement made under subsection (1), which we just amended, to visit a health professional, the court shall not award any financial assistance pursuant to the application. I am proposing that we add the words "without reasonable excuse". The subsection will then say that if a primary victim refuses without reasonable excuse to submit to a requirement to attend a health professional, then the court can refuse an award. I think it is appropriate that it be a reasonable test.

Mr Humphries: What is a reasonable excuse?

MR STANHOPE: Well, the courts deal with reasonableness in lots of instances.

Mr Humphries: Give me an example.

MR STANHOPE: I will leave that to the courts. A reasonable test. If a person has a reasonable excuse for not attending, the courts will take that into account. They do it in a whole range of areas now. The police actually have significant and numerous powers in relation to reasonable cause. It is a concept well known to the law. The courts will have no difficulties in dealing with the notion of reasonable excuse.

MR HUMPHRIES (Treasurer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Community Safety) (3.29 am): Mr Speaker, I have to argue against this very strongly. In effect, what Mr Stanhope is doing is arguing that it is not compulsory for a person who claims to have been injured in some way by the act of a criminal to submit to an examination to establish that in fact they were so injured. Mr Speaker, quite deliberately, this Bill provides that there should be a test, a medical examination, conducted on the person to ensure that they are in fact injured as they say they are for the purpose of making a claim. In personal injuries actions, say an action for damages for some tortious liability, it would be unheard of for the victim not to provide some kind of medical evidence. I think we should have no less a standard where an injury has been claimed for in respect of criminal injuries compensation. I have asked Mr Stanhope to tell me what is a reasonable excuse, and of course he cannot do that.

Mr Stanhope: Of course I could. I could, but it is not productive.

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