Page 82 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 7 December 2004

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The government will also maintain its very active program of law reform. These reforms will support the work we are doing in implementing the Canberra social plan by focusing strongly on social and legal equity. They will help build a culture in the ACT that understands, values and respects human rights.

In our second term, I will work with the commonwealth government to reform the self-government act. The ACT has come a long way in the 15 years of self-government, and it is time our achievements were recognised and our experience put to proper use. I have already put on record my belief that control of Lake Burley Griffin should be handed to the territory. We will also work to ensure that the community receives the very best legal services the territory has to offer.

We will work with the law society and the bar association to implement nationwide reforms to the legal profession which include incorporated legal practices, new registration processes and independent disciplinary procedures. We will continue to modernise the criminal law to ensure that it remains relevant. Part of this process will be the use of common English in legislation as much as possible.

We will continue to streamline and improve the ACT civil law. As part of our commitment to making the civil system more accessible, we will undertake a public review of the fees charged by the legal profession. We will bring downward pressure on legal fees to protect the community and consumers. This will also benefit firms by ensuring that small to medium sized legal firms are able to compete equitably for government work.

In our second term, we will work to ensure that the ACT courts regain their former status as national leaders in innovative procedures and jurisprudence. We will examine the recommendations of the Auditor-General following a performance audit of the ACT courts that will take place next year and we will examine the avenues available for overhauling our tribunal system. The ACT currently has six tribunals administered by the Magistrates Court, as well as a number of tribunals located outside the court. We will consider establishing a single administration that will service all of these tribunals, and we will ensure that tribunals remain accessible to the community.

In its second term, the government will continue the highly promising restorative justice approach for victims, and it will extend this program to schools. The government is strongly committed to a fair and just criminal system. In our second term, we will introduce reforms in the process of assessing whether a person is fit to plead. In the future the court, rather than the Mental Health Tribunal, will answer this question. We will examine the feasibility of incorporating into our Human Rights Act aspects of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Again, I am proud of the government’s achievements during its first term, and we will build on that success over the coming years.

I will conclude, Mr Speaker, with a brief mention of some of the major capital works projects that will take place over the next four years and beyond. In our second term, we will resolve some of the issues that have confronted successive governments, issues that have not been resolved. We will build a dragway. We will carry out the much needed refurbishments to the National Convention Centre. We will build a new Belconnen arts

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