Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2429 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
In reply Jesus said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he had compassion for him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'" "Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who showed compassion." And Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
Our civil law does not require the priest, the Levite or the Samaritan to assist a person. However, public policy recognises both the force of the moral compulsion under which the good Samaritan acted and the social value of the act. While our law does not punish the priest or the Levite for their lack of interest, public policy attributes no value to it.
Despite the value of the actions of the good Samaritan, modern law extends scant protection to that Samaritan's action. In modern times, the good Samaritan could be exposed to an action for damage caused by an adverse reaction to the wine, damage to clothing caused by oil stains, bruising caused by an insufficient or defective restraint device on the donkey, failure to provide sufficient lodgings and negligent misstatement. He may also run into problems with the law dealing with innkeepers.
The new provisions in this bill remedy this and affirm the social value of the many good Samaritans within our community, whether they render assistance on the road to Jericho or to Woden, or whether they assist at a roadside or give emergency medical assistance. Similarly, protection is also extended to those in our community who selflessly provide services to that community. A volunteer sports administrator who selflessly gives up spare time to provide opportunities for disadvantaged children to play sport should not find themself sued for an accident.
The bill seeks to achieve a balance between the need to protect volunteers against personal liability and the interests of those who suffer injury, loss or damage. It provides that a volunteer incurs no personal liability for an act done or omission made in good faith and without recklessness in the course of carrying out community work for a community organisation. The liability instead attaches to the community organisation, which is in a better position through insurance or mutual products to meet the losses incurred by an injured person. The bill provides that directions may be given to community organisations about insurance.
The chapter consolidates a number of other statutory provisions that ameliorate the otherwise harsh operation of the common law. At common law, while a living plaintiff could recover for any injury sustained as a result of another's wrongful acts, that course of action dies with the plaintiff. In other words, a wrongdoer can benefit from the death of an injured person because the plaintiff's survivors cannot bring an action to recover for the fatal injuries. At common law, no person made liable in damages had any right of