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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 5212 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

circumstances as a higher test than the normal bail criteria for allowing or disallowing bail. In conjunction with this, courts must determine that the test of special of exceptional circumstances applies before turning to the criteria for granting or not granting bail.

The government's policy is to do more to keep victims informed about bail decisions. We recognise that in the busy schedules of the courts and the work of the police it is very difficult to maintain the best level of communication with victims. To address this, the bill increases support for victims by ensuring that victim liaison officers from the police are available to keep victims informed about bail decisions when victims are concerned about their safety. The Victims Assistance Board, the Australian Federal Police and the courts were consulted about this issue, and I thank each of them and the police for their assistance. The bill also provides for a range of other minor and technical matters that improve the bail system and which are outlined in the bill's explanatory statement.

To all of those community and ACT government organisations that provided comment and critical analysis in the development of the government's policy in this bill I extend my thanks. This bill updates the territory's bail law, it upholds the legal principles that underpin our legal system, and it expresses community expectations by providing a greater clarity for bail decision makers. I commend the Bail Amendment Bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Civil Law (Wrongs) (Thresholds) Amendment Bill 2003

Mr Stanhope, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (10.47): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I present the Civil Law (Wrongs) (Thresholds) Amendment Bill 2003, which is part of the second stage of the ACT's three-stage response to the so-called insurance crisis. The Civil Law (Wrongs) Act 2002 (the act) was the first stage that set up the essential building blocks for reform and included a number of tort law reforms. Earlier this year the Assembly considered and passed stage two of the reforms based on the recent national reviews on insurance and tort law reform. Stage three will improve the management of civil claims in our courts.

This bill will amend the Civil Law (Wrongs) Act 2002 by introducing a threshold for non-economic loss that arises from a wrong occasioned by the provision of a health service by a doctor. The government takes this step with great reluctance. To limit costs in tort cases, all jurisdictions other than the ACT have introduced a series of measures to limit costs. Ipp J recommended adoption of a series of measures, including caps and thresholds for general damages. Last year, again with reluctance, the ACT adopted caps on damages for loss of earning capacity. My government had resisted the introduction of

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