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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 3249 ..

Fair Trading Legislation Amendment Bill 2001

Debate resumed from 21 June 2001, on motion by Mr Stefaniak:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (11.45): Mr Speaker, we are happy not to adjourn this bill.

Mr Stefaniak: Thank Christ for that.

MR SPEAKER: I was thinking that myself.

Mr Stefaniak: And we are happy to accept your amendments, so there you go.

MR SPEAKER: Order, please! We might get something through.

MR STANHOPE: Righto. Done. Mr Speaker, the Attorney-General introduced this bill on 21 June 2001. The bill amends the Fair Trading Act 1992 by removing the finance industry from local regulation and instituting a system of enforceable undertakings, the Fair Trading and Consumer Affairs Act 1973 by giving inspectors new powers of entry, search and seizure, the Magistrates Court Act 1930 by establishing a generic infringement notice scheme, the Sale of Goods Act 1954, and the Law Reform (Manufacturers Warranties) Act 1977 by removing consumers power in relation to quality of goods and warranties.

The scrutiny of bills committee offered some comments on the bill, but it was not critical of the

provisions. The committee did suggest that the Attorney should explain how the new provisions about the new powers of entry, search and seizure in the consumer affairs act would work in practice. I think that is an eminently suggestible suggestion of the committee. I would be interested in the explanation that the Attorney might give in addressing this bill, particularly about the provision that allows the inspectors to complete their own copy of the search warrant which is included in proposed new subsection 12C (5).

I think this is an interesting development in the law, Mr Speaker; that inspectors, in relation to various acts now, following I think even a telephone conversation or perhaps a faxed direction, write out their own search warrants. I think that is a suggestion or a provision that we need to monitor very closely. The Attorney's officers have advised my staff that similar provisions to this were used in the Gas Safety Act and the Electricity (Amendment) Act which this Assembly passed last year, and the government is relying on provisions in each of those acts as a precedent for the provision that is included in this bill.

Perhaps I need to confess that the inclusion of this particular provision in those acts whizzed through without me paying particular attention to it. In future I will look a little more closely at some of these search warrant provisions. Perhaps I was not expecting them to appear in the Gas Safety Act or the Electricity (Amendment) Act, but on reflection perhaps one can understand the use of such provisions in those acts where public safety may be an issue and an inspector may have to act quickly. I guess there is

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