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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4295 ..

These amendments arise out of a report of the scrutiny of Bills committee. This is the Mr Osborne double whammy review of this scheme. We had Mr Osborne chairing the standing committee that did recommend all the changes which we have now just ignored completely and we had Mr Osborne also chairing the scrutiny of Bills committee which recommended that it was inappropriate to leave the establishment of a victims services scheme and the creation of a Victims Assistance Board to regulations made by the Executive. The scrutiny of Bills committee said that that was an inappropriate delegation of legislative authority and that the issue was far too important to leave to regulations. That is what the scrutiny of Bills committee said, but we have ignored a lot of the recommendations that committees have made today. The Minister's response was that he wanted maximum flexibility to establish the scheme and board, so the Minister decided that he would not accept the scrutiny of Bills committee report in relation to this matter.

Amendments Nos 9, 10 and 11 go together to establish the scheme and make the Minister responsible for administering and operating it. They establish a Victims Advisory Board with certain functions and composition. The functions are similar to those proposed by the Government but are now to be established by primary legislation, not subordinate legislation. There are other machinery provisions for meetings, forums, et cetera.

The board will be advisory. The Minister must consult it about regulations he proposes. If he rejects a board recommendation he must give reasons. I have suggested that the board consist of a legal practitioner, a health professional and representatives of victims organisations. The first two, I suggest, should not be permitted to be public servants. The victims representative can be anybody nominated by a victims organisation.

I am responding very much to the scrutiny of Bills committee and I think it is appropriate. I take the point made by the scrutiny of Bills committee that it is an entirely inappropriate delegation of legislative authority to leave this to regulations for the flexibility that the Attorney says he would like. This is something which the Assembly should decide upon. I commend these proposals to members.

MR HUMPHRIES (Treasurer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Community Safety) (3.57 am): Mr Speaker, I acknowledge that there is a choice here between which set of recommendations one follows. The Government's proposal has been predicated on the recommendations of the Justice Committee that the structure of the service and the advisory board should be a matter that can be flexibly adapted as the scheme is developed. In particular, it should be capable of being discussed with victims organisations and other stakeholders in this area to make sure that they are satisfactory.

Mr Speaker, the intention of the Government is to go back to various stakeholders. Some of them, such as VOCAL, may be interested in providing the victims assistance service which we have talked about there. If we do not have the flexibility to negotiate what form the service should be because it is enshrined in legislation, we will have considerable disability in working out how the scheme should operate.

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