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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 2067 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

presentation of the bill in the media was that they were protecting tenure in this bill. They did not draw attention to the fact that this bill removes the government's hand in operating cemeteries, and opens the way for them to be bought by private operators.

Although I have heard Mr Wood say tonight that they are absolutely committed to leaving the tenure there, we do not see that in the legislation.

It is questionable to claim that, because there has been no outcry in the past three weeks, there are no concerns about this issue. It was not raised as an issue of privatisation at all, it was raised on just the tenure question. I agree with Mr Hargreaves that round-table discussions can be useful in getting regulations sorted out, but there are still outstanding issues.

Ms Dundas, in her speech, gave us many good reasons to send this to committee. Committees are a way of getting more attention to an issue. They look at the basic issues, practical results, ideas for alternatives, and experiences in other jurisdictions. A committee is not a gabfest, as Mr Hargreaves put it this morning.

As to whether we go into the detail stage today if my reference to committee is not supported, during my office's briefing on this bill, a commitment was made that either the minister's office would prepare an amendment to more expressly state that security of tenure of plots would be guaranteed, or we would be informed. This was to ensure that it was not just implied. If the minister did not do that, we were going to be informed, because we might have done that. Neither of these things has happened, so I am not happy to go ahead with the detail stage here.

We understood that regulations could be developed before the bill was voted on in its detail stage. This was to allow the whole of the new regulatory package to be considered at once. I am concerned that that is not happening, and would like to understand why.

On the scrutiny of bills report: the government response dated 5 June responds adequately to all but one of the points. The scrutiny report questions the penalties for failing to comply with improvement notices, et cetera. Mr Wood responded that it would be subject to sanction under clause 15. Clause 15, however, only sets out a process for contravention notices, with the end result that an improvement notice can be issued by the chief executive officer. Clause 16 sets a maximum penalty of 50 penalty units for failing to end a contravention of the act in accordance with an improvement notice.

Ultimately, in clause 17, if there is a failure to remedy the consequences of a contravention, the chief executive "may arrange for the action that the chief executive considers necessary or desirable to remedy the consequences to be taken by or on behalf of the Territory".

What is the scope of that? What does that mean? Does it mean that you take the cemetery away from the operator, or what? That is unclear, and I do not think we should be voting on this tonight.


(5.50): Mr Speaker, the Liberal Party will support this bill going to a committee. We do so because there is still an amount of intrigue about this legislation, and it would be prudent to have this cleared up through a process that directly involves

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