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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3098 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

laws. There are many precedents for that and it could be done equally for defamation, and I say it should be done for defamation.

It would not be simply a matter of the Attorneys-General sitting down and saying, "We shall draft a national or a uniform defamation law that embodies these or those principles." There will need to be consultations between the law-makers and the stakeholders to settle the principles. It will not be easy to reconcile the opposing views of the media and the legal profession in such consultations. It will probably not stand high on any government's list of legislative priorities, but a national approach will deliver a better outcome than would result from this Assembly alone enacting the defective bill that is now before us.

Mr Speaker, the Defamation Bill has failed to convince the justice committee of any strong argument to support the tenets on which it rests. The committee's report is a clear signal that we should reject the bill and I am confident that when we come to the vote the majority of us will do just that.

I will not waste the Assembly's time by canvassing the substance of the committee's recommendations. There is not time during the remaining life of this Assembly for the government to respond adequately to the report, or for parliamentary counsel to draft amendments that would pick up on the recommendations of the committee.

Mr Speaker, if the question that the bill be agreed to in principle were put now, we could save time and consider the huge workload that the government has saved up for us to deal with. We could reject the bill and leave it to the incoming government to put defamation law on a forthcoming COAG agenda. I invite you to do that, Mr Speaker.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hird ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2000

Debate resumed from 30 November 2000, on motion by Mr Stefaniak:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (8.16): Mr Speaker, the Labor Party will support this bill, which the Attorney-General introduced on 30 November 2000. The bill contains a number of amendments which can largely be described as technical, except for two or three.

An amendment to the Magistrates Court Act permits the registrar to adjourn and extend the time of interim restraining orders. This legitimises what happens in practice at the courts and will remove one ground for the interim orders being declared invalid if there is an appeal.

Secondly, the amendments to the Sale of Motor Vehicles Act change the requirement for a licensee to be of good fame and character to the description of a suitable person. The new provisions should be easier to administer and still ensure that only persons without convictions under the act for fraud-type offences can be licensees.

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