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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2705 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

The notable exception was Crispin Hull. While the government does not always see eye to eye with Mr Hull, his continuing contribution to reform in this area is undoubted. Like the committee, the government has been persuaded by his expertise in this area and his balanced and erudite analysis.

In relation to the defence of truth, the government has been persuaded to change its position. It will withdraw provisions designed to return the ACT to the common law position where truth alone is a defence.

The committee adopted a number of objections to the government's bill concerned about the technical complexity of the provision. Nevertheless, it appears that a consensus has started to emerge which will lead to a simplification of the law and yet allow us to achieve sound policy objectives. The government will bring forward amendments to give effect to this consensus.

The committee opposed the government's proposal to provide a clear and real benefit to defendants using the amends option, rather than, as present, fighting claims to a stalemate. However, the committee commended a counter proposal made by Mr Hull. Mr Hull proposed that the provisions in the bill dealing with an offer of amends might differentiate between imputations asserting criminal conduct and lesser imputations. The government will bring forward amendments to give effect to this proposal, and commends Mr Hull for his proposal.

Reform of defamation law has been promised since the very beginning of self-government. It is now within reach. The government looks forward to a constructive debate on the bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Suspension of standing and temporary orders-consideration of Assembly business

Motion (by Mr Corbell ) agreed to, with the concurrence of an absolute majority:

That so much of the standing and temporary orders be suspended as would prevent Assembly business Order of the Day relating to the Standing Committee on Planning and Urban Services Report No 77 concerning Draft Variation to the Territory Plan No 138 Gungahlin Drive Extension being called on forthwith.

Planning and Urban Services-Standing Committee

Report No 77

Debate resumed.

MR CORBELL (4.37): This report, endorsed by a majority of the Planning and Urban Services Committee today, is, to put it in one word, a disgrace. It is a disgrace for a number of reasons, Mr Deputy Speaker. It is a disgrace because the members of the committee failed to uphold their responsibilities to properly conduct an inquiry into the formal variation as presented to it under the land act by the Minister for Urban Services. It is a disgrace because it fails in any substantive way to deal with the issues raised in the

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