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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 3828 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

legislation does not work as well as it should. When you have interim orders that go, in one instance, for 33 months, that does not serve anyone's interest. Those things do need to be cleared up. The Supreme Court was quite right to point to problems, and I do not think all of them have been fixed but just adjust a few little administrative arrangements within the courts. This bill does hit the spot in terms of those problems which were properly raised in the Supreme Court.

I said earlier that the Women's Legal Centre had raised some concerns, and yes, I think they would still prefer that the bill be further adjourned, but we are at the end of the Assembly. They were realistic. They did say that the amendments go some way towards meeting their concerns, but they do not go far enough to allow them to have wholehearted support for the bill. Fair enough.

Given the circumstances of their concerns, they suggested that if the bill is passed the government undertake to consult widely on the proposed regulations and undertake to consider further amendments following consultation on the regulations, a report from the Domestic Violence Prevention Council on the consistency of the new legislation with model domestic violence laws, and a review of the new legislation after a short period of operation, for example six to 12 months, including analysis of the types of orders made under the previous and new legislation, preferably by an independent expert body with access to reliable data.

In terms of consultation on the regulations and those points, Mr Speaker, I can say that this government is happy to give a commitment to consult with relevant stakeholders, including community stakeholders, on the regulations. The Protection Orders Bill has a delayed commencement that would allow this to occur. Again I emphasise that the regulations would be technical in nature, and consultation would be confined to questions of technical operation rather than any possible substantive policy issues.

Of course, the government will also be monitoring the operation of the legislation from day one. Having said this, I can see no difficulty with the suggestion that the legislation be reviewed after a period of operation. I would suggest that 12 months would be a better period than six months, but they say six to 12 months, so I do not think they would have a problem about that. I would say that 12 months would be a better period for this purpose as it would give a more comprehensive picture of how the legislation is tracking.

Finally, Mr Speaker, this bill will make the law in relation to protection orders clearer. It will make it more accessible. But primarily the bill will provide a more effective mechanism to protect people from interpersonal violence. The people who seek protection orders need the assurance that the orders that they are granted when it comes to the crunch are going to be enforceable. That is what the bill is designed to do, and I would urge members to support it.

Question put:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

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