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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3380 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

We think this system is likely to create different flaws, different possibilities for unfair transactions, or at least ill-advised transactions, and flow-on costs. The scrutiny of bills committee raised the issue of the burgeoning number of strict liability offences and asked for a reason. For example, on the face of it, the EER offences were being changed from "without reasonable excuse"to "strict liability". The government's response was similar to previous responses on this point. However, this time in a briefing the point was expanded. Under the new criminal code, "strict liability"is clearly defined to the effect that, while it means that fault applies regardless of intent, there is still available the defence of mistake of fact. There is an additional category of absolute liability offences for which the only defences are: "I didn't do it"or that the conduct was not voluntary.

The changes to the auction system to prevent dummy bidding seem sensible and effective. The bill is at least establishing disclosure and setting limits on who has access to the disclosed information. The government's response to the scrutiny of bills committee on the issue of who has access to the register clarifies that privacy will be maintained by the enforcement of the list being through the Office of Fair Trading.

More disclosure in the contract is generally a good idea. My questions are about whether the changes to the associated system have been dealt with and whether, in the case of agents, this bill goes too far in the interest of speed at the expense of certainty.

My final comment is just to note that, from discussion with the Planning Minister's office and Parliamentary Counsel, it appears that there may be a slight inaccuracy in the provisions concerning the energy efficiency rating scheme which could lead to legal confusion over the guidelines. I understand that if, on consideration, it seems best that this be clarified, the minister will make an amendment.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (3.48), in reply: I thank members for their contribution to the debate. This bill is about an important issue. It is a significant advance in the law in relation to conveyancing in the ACT. We are making some quite significant changes to the way in which conveyancing will be conducted in the ACT in the future.

There has been broad consultation on the reforms and we have had broad agreement across the board in relation to those involved on a day-to-day basis with conveyancing in the ACT. Essentially, that is the real estate industry and the legal profession. I think that, as a result of the reforms that we are currently debating, the quite despicable practice of gazumping will be, if not completely dealt with and removed, at least seriously inhibited. I would think that this legislation will ultimately lead to the practice of gazumping disappearing altogether.

I take the opportunity to circulate a revised explanatory statement.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail Stage

Clauses 1 to 25, by leave, taken together and agreed to.

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