Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 4263 ..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
This inclusion was an oversight that occurred during the drafting process and the government has moved quickly to draft amendments to the bill to remove the penalty of imprisonment attached to those offences. As I informed members when I wrote to them with a copy of my response to the scrutiny of bills committee, I will be introducing amendments to that effect this evening.
The committee was also concerned that the removal of the reasonable excuse defence will diminish the rights of defendants. Under the Criminal Code, the reasonable excuse defence will be removed from all ACT offence provisions because there is a high degree of uncertainty as to the exact nature of what constitutes a reasonable excuse. In fact, previously there have been calls from the committee to avoid vagueness in offences and defences and the negative impact that this can have on the personal rights and liberties of victims of the offence to which a reasonable excuse defence is available.
The government strongly believes that the removal of the reasonable excuse defence provision in the four offences does not substantially reduce the rights of defendants. I will speak more about that in the detail stage. But these changes in the bill today are designed to refine the operation of the scheme to ensure that it is operating fairly and consistently.
Finally, in summing up, I would like to thank the OH&S Council Workers Compensation Advisory Committee, the staff from the Office of Industrial Relations and staff from my office for the work that has been involved in drafting the legislation and for briefing members on it leading up to the debate this evening.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to in principle.
Clauses 1 to 34, by leave, taken together and agreed to.
Schedule 1 agreed to.
Amendments 2.1 to 2.37, by leave, taken together and agreed to.
MS GALLAGHER (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (8.21): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name [see schedule 1 at page 4276].
Mr Speaker, the scrutiny committee quite correctly held concerns in relation to the penalty provisions in subsections 191 (5) and 210 (1) which included term of imprisonment for a strict liability offence. This inclusion was an oversight that occurred