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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 3825 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

It beggars belief that the government, which prides itself on its commitment to consultation, did not consult with the group of most significant stakeholders in relation to such a sensitive issue as domestic violence. It is simply mind-boggling that the government has brought into this place legislation which makes a significant change to arrangements or procedures in relation to domestic violence without consulting, in the preparation of that legislation or in relation to its administration, with the Domestic Violence Crisis Service, the Women's Legal Centre or the government's own Domestic Violence Council. It is staggering that the government has chosen not to do so. In an environment where those organisations are now aware of the legislation and have come to the Attorney and said, "We want an opportunity to make meaningful input into this bill," the government chooses to crash it through tonight at the last sitting of this Assembly.

In the government's words, we are dealing here with minor technical matters. In terms of the government's own presentation speech, we are addressing criticisms made by the Supreme Court of some Magistrates Court administrative matters; issues that will not be dealt with in this legislation in any event. These amendments are mainly machinery for administering matters that are not being dealt with through this piece of legislation. The government's stated reasons for persisting with this legislation are quite spurious. There is simply no real reason for pushing ahead with this legislation, particularly in an environment where you know that the major stakeholders are offended by the process, do not support the process, and do not support the legislation.

The Labor Party will not support this legislation in these circumstances, to some extent irrespective of some of the so-called technical provisions which we would otherwise have no difficulty in supporting. In an environment where you have not consulted, where those that have not been consulted remain aggrieved, the Labor Party will not support this legislation.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (7.52), in reply: Mr Speaker, I am amazed at how people talk about consultation in this place. They use it when it suits them, and when it doesn't suit them they come up with some reason not to consult. However, I will address the points raised by Mr Stanhope and Ms Tucker. I thank them for their comments, but I do not necessarily agree with them.

I point out to members, to start with, that this bill has been adjourned on probably four or five occasions over the last three weeks to enable the additional consultation which Mr Stanhope and Ms Tucker spoke of to take place. I am delighted to say that as a result of that consultation, and the amendments that the government will be moving as a result of that, the groups Mr Stanhope speaks of are somewhat more comfortable, and I will come back to that later. There are a number of things they would like to see occur if this bill is passed, and some of them would like to see it adjourned again. But at least they are somewhat more comfortable, and I will quote the salient point in one letter from the Women's Legal Centre later.

As I noted in my presentation speech, Mr Speaker, this bill is the end product of an extensive technical review of the current restraining orders and protection orders legislation. The primary purpose of the review was to fix problems with the legislation that had been identified in several Supreme Court cases. The government was also keen

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