Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 3814 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

a look at that. It is important that we continue to drive reform in this area. But this is a fantastic start. I commend the bill to the Assembly and I thank members for their comments.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (5.51): Mr Speaker, I move amendment No 1 on the second sheet circulated in my name [see schedule 3 at page 3908].

Mr Speaker, while the bill has been available for some time, two factors lend weight to the delayed operation of the act. Firstly, there is a demonstrable need for the media to undertake preparation for the commencement of the offer of amends process and the negligence defence. This will require retraining of journalists and editorial staff. There has been very little movement in defamation law for a long time and this fundamental shift from what the media has been used to will take some time to prepare for. Secondly, a number of significant changes are proposed to these provisions.

It is proposed, therefore, that the act not commence until 1 July 2002 to allow the media and other publishers to undertake the necessary preparations. The amendment to include a fixed date will lend certainty to these preparations. This is one of the amendments suggested by Mr Osborne and, for the reasons I have outlined, we see the sense in accepting it. I commend the amendment to the Assembly.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (5.52): Mr Speaker, as I indicated earlier, the Labor Party does not accept the force of the argument that the Attorney has just put. I think this is good legislation. However, the original bill was far more advanced than the bill which will now be passed. As everyone knows, the amendments make the provisions of the bill far less dramatic than they may have been.

Whilst this bill is a significant advance-and I do not want to understate this-in defamation law in the ACT and in Australia, I cannot accept an argument that Crispin Hull or Jack Waterford need 12 months to be trained in respect of the implications of the amendments. I just do not accept the force of the argument that we need to allow 12 months for journalists in the editorial room at the Canberra Times, or within other media outlets in the ACT, to be trained in the meaning and the implications of this piece of legislation.

This is good legislation and it has been accepted across the Assembly. I think perhaps the support for these changes might even be unanimous. I can see absolutely no justification for delaying the operation of this legislation by a year. This legislation should come into

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .