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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 579 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

my amendment simplifies the guidelines and makes it clear that the act has the broadest possible application.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (12.26): The government will be opposing Mr Rugendyke's amendment. The approach taken by the government is one which the expert committee of the Law Society have carefully crafted. It is a tabular approach, adopting the style used in other complex pieces of legislation. A lot of work has been put into this clause by the committee of the Law Society.

MS TUCKER (12.27): The Greens are supporting this amendment as it simplifies the application of the act so that it applies to disputes in regard to all leases in force on the commencement day of the act. There may be some retrospective implications when extending the fair conditions and procedures encapsulated in the act to leases that have already been entered into. But, in effect, it simply ensures that the act will apply, as it should, to all existing leases.

The existing arrangements in this bill are complex and open up yet more fertile ground for action in court that would argue the point and resist the provisions for dispute resolution in the act. It shifts the balance to parties with more time and resources available to them. There is no cogent argument for creating such complex arrangements, given that the intent of the dispute resolution process is to be fair to both parties in a dispute. Also, we are talking about actions or activities which are arguably unfair or unjust, irrespective of whether they occurred before or after the commencement day of the act. It seems clear that such a process ought to apply to all existing leases.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (12.28): The Labor Party will not be supporting Mr Rugendyke's amendment. It is an interesting amendment insofar as it simply reflects a different approach to arriving at the same end as the government. I honestly think that, between the government's provisions that are currently in the bill and Mr Rugendyke's proposal, you could really toss a coin. It seems to us that the tabulation of areas of disputes that the act applies to, probably in response to new drafting techniques, reflects an amendment to drafting by the Parliamentary Counsel. It is more specific, and it does give the appearance of being a bit more complex or convoluted than the approach Mr Rugendyke favours of a more general description of factors or of disputes to which the act applies.

I can see no good reason not to support the approach adopted by the government in the bill. It reflects the determination of draftspeople these days to be more precise in legislation. I disagree with Ms Tucker: I do not believe it generates the possibility of further disputation. It should refine it.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (12.29): I support the view that to pass the amendment Mr Rugendyke has moved is to throw out a very large amount of work that has been done between the parties in a process which has gone on for a large amount of time to secure a satisfactory arrangement. Members will note that the legislation as placed before the Assembly provides a number of opportunities to reopen issues that occurred in the past--it is very common for them to have occurred in the past.

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