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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (26 September) . . Page.. 3356 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

The private right of access to the courts by ordinary people, has fettered abuse of power by the government in fundamentally important ways. The conspiracy proceedings against Corrigan and Reith; the challenge over Tampa; the actions over police bashings at Richmond secondary college; the police strip search cases, are all examples.

And that check on the abusive exercise of power by the State is not just the result of successful cases . . .

it extends to the state and big corporates knowing that the law is there;

and that there are lawyers out there . . . union lawyers, refugee lawyers, legal centre lawyers, civil liberties lawyers, who are prepared to use it.

Finally, I will quote Professor Desmond Manderson, until recently director of the Julius Stone Institute for Jurisprudence at Sydney University, and now occupant of the Canada research chair in law and discourse at McGill University in Montreal:

MR SPEAKER: The member's time has expired.

MS TUCKER: I ask for a short extension.

MR SPEAKER: You are entitled to use the second period.

MS TUCKER: Okay, I will use the second period. I will begin with that quote:

So to limit court cases to success, and to define success as a judgment in damages, is to miss the point. One brings (some) cases

(a) to change the law; or

(b) to publicise the injustice of the present law; or

(c) to publicise a corrupt or bad behaviour by the powerful.

All of this might be stopped by this law.

True, the court itself can waive this provision, but then it's up to the court to decide what they think is socially important.

Hardly very helpful (and actually it might invite, if you look at the provisions, more litigation not less).

Ask yourself this: if this provision had been in force, would that famous case against McDonalds ever have been allowed to have their day in court?

I urge the Assembly to reject this provision or, at the very least, put it off until the government engages with the courts in stage three of its reforms.

MS DUNDAS (5.29): As does Ms Tucker, the ACT Democrats oppose this clause and the entire section of 10.2 in this bill. We have had strong representation from the ACT Law Society and the Welfare Legal Rights Centre and are not convinced that this measure in this bill should be introduced immediately.

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