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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 830 ..

It is only a measure of privilege; it is not complete privilege. If a third party becomes aware that such evidence has been given and feels that they can start action on that, they can still do that. Evidence given in public hearing does not attract privilege.

The other thing I would draw members' attention to is reference in the report to strict liability. The committee is urging government to explain why strict liability or any type of liability ought to apply when determining offences or penalties within legislation.

The impact of the Legislation Act and the criminal code is rather new to the Assembly. In the past we have not codified strict liability or any type of liability. Liability goes to what one can use as a defence. Codifying liability in the Legislation Act and the criminal code has created a new environment. Unless legislation providing that something attracts strict liability is cross-referenced with the Legislation Act and to the criminal code, people are going to miss it. Your average mug punter out there is not going to pick what definitions mean and what the implications of a given piece of legislation are.

We need an explanation of why a particular liability will apply in a piece of legislation. The community is encouraging the government, parliamentary counsel and departments to indulge in more cross-referencing. The difficulty for non-lawyers in reading legislation is made worse by the fact that a lot of definitions in legislation are explained in the Legislation Act and possibly the criminal code. To make it easier for non-lawyers to read legislation and see how it affects them, the government is encouraged to continue its practice of cross-referencing. The government has been pretty good about that, but not in all ministries. We would like to see it in all ministries.

I commend the report to the Assembly.

Taxation (Government Business Enterprises) Bill 2002

Debate resumed from 18 February 2003, on motion by Mr Quinlan:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MS DUNDAS (10.37): Mr Speaker, this bill brings territory-owned businesses into line with the memorandum of understanding on the national tax equivalent regime. The Democrats generally support the idea that government businesses should be constrained by taxation arrangements similar to those in the private sector. With a tax equivalent paid by government business enterprises, it becomes clearer where government resources are most efficiently allocated.

There are a number of services that the Democrats believe should always be delivered solely by government, such as water and electricity supply. But there are other areas where the private sector has always operated, and there is no compelling reason for government to deliver those services, either exclusively or alongside the private sector. The kind of services that Totalcare provides arguably fall within that category, as none are obvious candidates for a government monopoly. In cases such as this, payment of an income tax equivalent by the government business enterprise is the least that the business community of Canberra can expect so they know that they are competing with the government enterprise on a level playing field.

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