Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 5043 ..
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to in principle.
Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.
Bill agreed to.
Validation of Fees (Cemeteries) Bill 2003Debate resumed from 27 November 2003, on motion by Mr Wood:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MR CORNWELL (4.57): The Liberal Party will be supporting this legislation. We are not terribly keen on debating legislation brought on at relatively short notice. I am not worried about the Validation of Fees (Cemeteries) Bill, but it would concern me if we were given a week to look at an inch-thick document and debate it. It is the principle that we are objecting to; we are not objecting to dealing with legislation promptly if it is possible to do so. I ask the government please to exercise some commonsense in this matter.
The Validation of Fees (Cemeteries) Bill 2003 essentially corrects an oversight. For something like 21/2 years there was no legal basis for the fees collected for cemetery services. The scrutiny of bills report in relation to the legislation best sums up the approach we should take. First, those who paid the fee probably did so in the belief that they were legally obliged to do so. I have no argument with that. Second, the fees charged were amounts properly related to the services provided. There is no real problem. These fees are legitimate, the people who paid them accepted they had to pay them, and presumably they were happy with the services for which they paid. The fact that there has been an administrative glitch, an oversight, has nothing to do with the payment.
Nobody in this Assembly-and perhaps nobody in the real world-likes retrospectivity, but occasionally these things happen. This government, as much as a Liberal government, would try to avoid that sort of thing happening at all, but unfortunately it does from time to time.
At 5.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.
MR CORNWELL: There is no viable alternative to this legislation. I understand from the minister's speech that the amounts total something in excess of $2 million. I do not know what one would do otherwise. One cannot very well refund the amounts. There may not be any feasible way of refunding it. I make the point again that these were legitimate charges for services rendered that people were happy to pay-and presumably they were happy with the services they received. It was an administrative oversight,