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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3074 ..

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (6.02): Mr Speaker, I move amendment No 6 circulated in my name [see schedule 2 at page 3089].

Mr Speaker, amendment 6 amends clause 59 of the bill. The amendment rectifies an incorrect citation of an act, so that the new section 30A (1) (b) properly refers to the Civil Law (Wrongs) Act 2002.

Amendment agreed to.

MR STEFANIAK (6.03): I move amendment No 3 circulated in my name [see schedule 1 at page 3088].

This would amend subsection 30A (7) on page 71, which states at present:

Noncompliance with a requirement of this section by the plaintiff does not prevent the plaintiff from bringing a proceeding in a court for damages but, unless the court is satisfied there is reason to excuse the noncompliance, damages must not be awarded in the proceeding to allow or compensate for medical, legal or gratuitous services provided to the plaintiff before the day the proceeding began.

My concern is with the word "reason". I suppose one could say to have "reason"means it should be a good reason, but it is unclear. The reason would have to be a compelling one for a court to actually grant that type of exemption, and this is a test normally applied in similar cases. To make it far clearer, and to stiffen it up a bit, I propose inserting the word "compelling"before "reason".

MS DUNDAS (6.04): Clause 59 is about limiting compensation payments to children in the instance where their parent or guardian is remiss in giving notice to affected parties of a pending legal action. This clause, in effect, punishes children, who cannot help themselves.

The only glimmer of humanity in this clause is the provision granting a discretion to the court to waive the application of the clause if there is a reason for the parent or guardian's noncompliance. To upgrade this from discretion to having to have a "compelling reason"is to set the bar higher. As a consequence, there is a greater risk of children losing compensation for those medical costs incurred before proceedings begin.

I believe that this amendment moved by Mr Stefaniak makes what is already a very bad part of law even worse, so I will not be supporting his amendment.

MS TUCKER (6.05): I agree with Ms Dundas absolutely on this, and I note there was no word of children in Mr Stefaniak's speech. It is interesting how we sterilise what we are actually doing through the use of legal language. With this amendment the Liberal Party proves again that it is even more the friend of business than the Labor Party is now.

It is a grotty reverse option with flexibility and individual circumstance-and human rights, I would add-being sacrificed. Not only must the court accept the reason for a parent or guardian being tardy in taking up an action on behalf of their children; the reason must be compelling. I am sure Mr Stefaniak and his friends have been

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