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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3079 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

date of the incident claimed to have caused the disease or disability. The 12-year limit can be extended by the court in the interests of justice. In determining whether the court considers the interests of justice, the court will be required to consider the expert medical evidence, along with other evidence.

What the government has provided for is that in a straight-out injury case a statute of limitation of six years will apply, which will commence from the date of the incident that caused the injury; in other cases where these symptoms may not appear for some time, six years from when the symptoms appear but within 12 years; and in circumstances where we are dealing with symptoms that, for whatever reason, may not have appeared or become apparent within 12 years-say a disease that is not necessarily apparent-then, if the interests of justice so require, that period can be extended by the court.

Essentially, bearing in mind the way the courts operate and these matters are dealt with, the amendment proposed by Ms Tucker simply renders almost meaningless the application of a fixed term statute of limitations. It actually means there is no certainty. This provision is all about achieving certainty in relation to the commencement of actions. This is the provision that was negotiated. It is essentially at least the average of statute of limitations applying everywhere in Australia. This is the Victorian provision; we have picked it up straight out of Victoria.

There are other provisions-for instance, that applying in New South Wales. They are all different. Every state and territory now essentially has a different set of limitation periods. The ACT has the same as Victoria. They vary. Some are far more stringent than this. This is not necessarily the toughest of the lot. I think Tasmania has that honour-a straight-out three years for everybody, I think. There is no mucking around-three years if you are an adult; three years from the date of injury if you are a child in Tasmania; three years from the development of symptoms. That is how they have done it in Tasmania-three years for everybody. Every state and territory is doing it differently. These are judgment calls. We chose Victoria, thinking that it was perhaps less bad than some or many of the other possibilities.

Ms Tucker's amendment, which, of course, I have enormous sympathy for and which, if I were on the crossbench, I would have moved myself, simply flies in the face of the scheme.

Ms Tucker: And that is what I would be doing if I was there.

MR STANHOPE: That's right. If you were sitting here, Ms Tucker, as a person responsible to the whole territory and all the people of the ACT, you would be here making this speech that I am making.

Question put:

That Ms Tucker's amendment No 1 to Mr Stanhope's amendment No 8 be agreed to.

The Assembly voted-

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