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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2664 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

I initially had some problems, which are detailed in the scrutiny report, in relation to an explanatory memorandum. Some of the changes had not been referred to in the explanatory memorandum, especially in relation to what could be appealed and how that could be done. That has now been taken care of by the Attorney-General.

As a former practitioner, I am pleased to see that the act now brings us very much into line with New South Wales. As many people do, I practised in both jurisdictions. It is important that there is uniformity. It is sensible in most cases, if that is appropriate to the territory. It certainly is appropriate in this area.

The Legislation Act has been amended again. That is as a result of some matters raised by Treasury. With the Pawn Brokers Act, the AFP and the Magistrates Court were involved. There are only about three pawnbrokers in the ACT. I understand they are quite comfortable about this. In fact, they now have to go to only one place, where they can obtain two licences, instead of going to two places. That might even result in a few administrative savings!

The Public Trustee Office and the Registrar General's Office were involved with the Public Trustee Act.

The amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act are minor. I am pleased to see that the AFP, the Magistrates Court and the second-hand dealers were involved with the Second Hand Dealers Act. I understand there are about 70 second-hand dealers in Canberra. As a result of one of the diligent officers in the justice department making herself available, virtually all of them rang her. That is quite a good case of consultation. I do not quite know if she expected all of them to telephone her, but she was certainly kept busy. I am happy with the consultation there.

The Public Trustee Office had input in relation to the Unclaimed Moneys Act.

In relation to the Magistrates Court Act, I honestly had some concern as to codifying a practice which has always operated-that is about discouraging forum shopping. The Chief Magistrate allocates matters to other magistrates. The Chief Magistrate has always been able to do this-as has, I understand, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

There has always been a concern in court circles about some people forum shopping. You might not want to go before a certain magistrate if you are up for a PCA, because that magistrate might be more likely to give you a lengthier drivers licence suspension than somebody else. Therefore, many people have concerns about forum shopping. You can probably never rule it out completely because there are various tactics people can use. However, this codification ensures that the Chief Magistrate's decisions cannot be taken up on review.

It is the Chief Magistrate's job to allocate matters. I have never been aware of anyone who has complained about it, or taken a matter further. So I do not know whether there is a real need to codify what has been a convention. If the Chief Magistrate allocates matters, people accept it. No-one, to my knowledge, in 12 or 13 years of practice in the ACT, has taken a matter further. If they have a problem with it, people tend to just accept it. I doubt there is a real need to codify that, but it is there. I do not think it hurts to have

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