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

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (20 February) . . Page.. 431 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

point. It would be sensible not to do that and therefore the clause should be removed. However, I think it is very important that there be a thorough process.

Complaints mechanisms provide one of the fundamental ways in which we can ensure consumer protection. This matter has come up in every committee inquiry that I have been involved with, whether it be health, education, consumer protection, the environment or whatever. If you do not have a complaints system which works then consumers are very vulnerable. In this case we are talking about people who are vulnerable to begin with, because they are people with disabilities. So I am happy to support this motion as amended by Mr Stanhope.

Amendment agreed to.

MS DUNDAS (5.09): I would like to close the debate and clarify some of the points that have been raised. I will respond quickly to the amendment that has been adopted. I believe that the review panel mentioned in clause (3) of my motion would be appropriate and useful. I reiterate the point I made earlier that the idea of establishing such a review function within the advisory council has been discussed and developed by the commissioner for a number of years now.

As I said earlier, the purpose of the motion is not to encourage endless appeals regarding health complaints, but rather to ensure that any problems that come to light about the systems used to investigate complaints are addressed.

Specifically, Mr Smyth, I would assume that the review would look at cases to ascertain if the processes used are fair and efficient. The details of the powers would need to be looked at by the government commissioner and the council, as is suggested in clause (4) of my motion.

The motion now reads in a way that still works and it will address the concerns that I have raised. I would regret any unnecessary delays in finally implementing these very useful improvements to the complaints system and, in order to meet the government's concerns, I am prepared to accept the amendment. I only hope that the processes undertaken by the government will proceed in a timely manner, as required by the final clause of my motion.

In closing, I would like to thank other members for their brief contributions to this debate. I am very pleased that there is so much support generally for the approach advocated in my motion. It is good to see that we are of the same mind in our focus on improving the complaints mechanism in the territory. I believe it is extremely important that we, as members of the Assembly, use our time here to help empower people in the community.

The complaints commissioner provides a vital mechanism for people who want to have their grievances addressed and their complaints heard. This motion encourages the government to play a proactive role in strengthening the complaints mechanism. By supporting this motion, the Assembly can, and will, make a valuable contribution to ensuring that the methods used in the processing of complaints are of the highest quality.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

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