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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (20 February) . . Page.. 274 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The bill also provides a framework for the jurisdiction of the tribunal to be expanded at some later time. The tribunal could be expanded to handle consumer complaints and review licensing decisions for other industries. This would avoid the existing duplication of dispute resolution functions and would ensure that there is consistency in dispute resolution processes.

The Consumer and Trader Tribunal Bill 2003 is based on the tribunal provisions in the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1989. Part 1 of the bill deals with preliminary matters such as commencement of the act and alerts readers to the objects of the act, which are:

� to review decisions by decision-makers under acts which confer jurisdiction on this tribunal;

� to make decisions about disciplinary action to be taken against licensees, where jurisdiction is conferred on this tribunal;

� to ensure that the tribunal is accessible;

� to ensure that tribunal procedures are simple, quick, inexpensive and as informal as each case demands; and

� to ensure that the decisions of the tribunal are fair.

Part 2 of the bill deals with the constitution of the tribunal. The tribunal will consist of a president, deputy presidents and a panel of members. The president can select members from the panel to hear matters. Matters can be heard by one member, the president, the deputy president or a number of members. This will depend on the complexity of the matter, the availability of members and the relevant skills of the members.

Part 3 of the bill provides for applications to be made to the tribunal. Applications for a review of a licensing decision or for disciplinary action to be taken against a party must be in writing and must include a statement of reasons for making the application. Applications for a review of a licensing decision must be made within 60 days of the licensing decision being made. This part also allows preliminary conferences to be held to help prepare parties for hearings and to assist in narrowing the issues.

Part 4 of the bill sets out the tribunal's procedures. The procedures of the tribunal are to be as simple, quick and inexpensive as is consistent with achieving justice. The tribunal must make a thorough examination of all matters relevant to a case and ensure that each party is given a reasonable opportunity to present its case. Like the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Residential Tenancies Tribunal and the Essential Services Consumer Council, this tribunal will not be bound by the rules of evidence in considering matters.

Part 4 of the bill permits parties to appear before the tribunal in person or to be represented by another person, including a lawyer. This part also permits parties to give evidence by phone or by electronic means.

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