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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 3820 ..

Protection Orders Bill 2001

[Cognate bill:

Protection Orders (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2001]

Debate resumed from 23 August 2001, on motion by Mr Stefaniak:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SPEAKER: I remind members that in debating this order of the day they may also address their remarks to executive business, order of the day No 4, Protection Orders (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2001.

MS TUCKER (7.32): Mr Speaker, on our first consideration of this bill you will recall that I moved that the debate be adjourned, and I argued strongly, amongst a lot of heckling, for what really is a most basic point-that changes to the legal framework to protect people from domestic violence should only be done in close consultation with those involved with domestic violence and the women's legal sector. In the course of that speech the Attorney-General promised to consult. "We will talk to them," he said. And that was the point. It is appalling that it did not happen much earlier in the lengthy review process.

So I was relieved, a little, to hear that eventually there was a meeting between the department and the representatives of some of the domestic violence sector last Thursday. Then on Monday I received draft copies of the government's proposed amendments, based on that meeting. That is good, as far as it goes. But I have a little more to say today about the changes to the domestic violence legislative landscape. This bill is not only about domestic violence. We also have to answer questions about how this changes procedures for other forms of restraining order.

This bill was presented to us as an urgent response to problems in the law which had led to protection orders and restraining orders being overturned by the Supreme Court. Although there was no report to look at to see the rationale for the legal changes proposed, my office was supplied with links to the cases which had led to the changes, which we appreciated. However, on reading those cases, it is hard to see how the changes proposed address the need identified. As I said last week, the Magistrates Court has already addressed the criticisms, and most of the criticisms went directly to sloppy legal procedures, not to problems in the law.

I understand the argument that rewriting the law will make it easier to understand and will involve less flipping between acts. It will standardise terminology and make clear which parts are common to any judicial act to ensure protection, and which are particular to the particular types. Helpful examples are included as notes in this bill.

Notwithstanding this argument, however, in regard to domestic violence, strong arguments have been put forward in the past for retaining identifiable domestic violence prevention measures in a separate act. I understand that the model domestic laws continue this practice. In its report No 11, September 1996, the Community Law Reform Committee said on this point:

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